Printer Friendly

'Shall not be infringed except ...'.

The Department of Justice "is notifying federally licensed firearms dealers that they cannot sell guns or ammunition to medical marijuana users," The Associated Press reports. The Sept. 21 memo from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco/Firearms, etc. points out the federal government classifies marijuana--a plant from which it's impossible to die of an overdose--as a Schedule I controlled substance, right up there with addictive heroin, even in states that have medical marijuana laws.


"Therefore, any person who uses or is addicted to marijuana, regardless of whether his or her state has passed legislation authorizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes, is an unlawful user or addicted to a controlled substance and is prohibited by federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition," the memo proclaims.

So a provision--medically dubious enough, in its own right--designed to deal with those whose behavior grows erratic because they've grown addicted to illegal, black-market opiates, now somehow applies to people who use non-addictive marijuana for medical purposes on a doctor's recommendation, as allowed by the laws of their state?

And this bureaucratic edict now somehow trumps every federal officer's oath to "protect and defend" a document that declares "The right of the people to bear arms shall not be infringed"?

The memo then goes on to instruct licensees that if they have reason to believe someone is using controlled substances, they may not sell them firearms or ammunition--even if the pot use is lawful and there's no evidence of addiction, which is characterized, medically, by increasing tolerance and withdrawal.

I can hear a number of readers saying, "And it's a good thing, too. The last thing we need is a bunch of stoned-out potheads weaving around the streets, brandishing firearms."

First, let's deal with the obvious implication that the potheads are just "making up" this notion that their favorite herb can be medically useful. Identified as "Pentagruel" or "Pantagruelion," the cannabis plant was a huge part of every medieval physician's medicine chest--some would argue one of its few efficacious ingredients--long before early 20th century Americans decided to ban the plant due to undocumented, racist-motivated reports that black and Hispanic males were using it to seduce white women. (Also see the related case Opium: Chinamen.)

The only reason the FDA doesn't recognize the benefits of cannabis for glaucoma and other diseases is that no pharmaceutical firm will spend the millions of dollars necessary to jump through the FDA's regulatory hoops, since they wouldn't be allowed to make back their investment selling the stuff, regardless.

Moving on: The problems here are twofold. First, the law places no similar restrictions on selling to alcoholics, even "known" alcoholics--nor to those who are constantly impaired under the influence of Dilaudid or other legal, prescription painkillers, which 1^ would argue can impair the judgment at least as much if not far more than the use of marijuana by people for whom it does some medical good.

And secondly, this is yet another case where a citizen is going to be punished for any attempt to be honest and obey the law.

If you buy marijuana on the black market, "just to get high," and you choose to lie and answer "No" to the "Do you now use or have you ever used" question, your chances of getting caught are minimal, unless you show up at the gun store so stoned you can't even stand upright.

On the other hand, if your doctor decides you have a legitimate medical need for marijuana, you go through all the legal rigmarole to get his prescription or "recommendation," and you're then careful to use the substance only at home in the evening, you might figure, "Heck, I'm not doing anything illegal* so why should I lie? I'll just check this little box here that says Yes, I use marijuana legally under a doctor's orders. ..."

And Bingo, as far as Auntie Sam is concerned, you've now given up your right to keep and bear arms. "It is egregious that people may be sentenced to years in a federal prison only because they possessed a firearm while using a state-approved medicine," Gary Marbut, president of the Montana Shooting Sports Association, told the Billings Gazette.

"In fact, the policy goes so far as to say even being in possession of a medical cannabis card forfeits a citizen's Second Amendment rights whether or not that person ever followed through and used cannabis for their condition," adds Kate Cholewa, board member of the Montana Cannabis Industry Association.

Chris Lindsey, a lawyer specializing in medical marijuana cases, writes: "With a stroke of a pen, the Department of Justice has suspended the Second Amendment for those who use medical cannabis."

"They have neither facts nor science to support their position so the federal government is using force, threats and the denial of their constitutional rights/ Ms. Cholewa concludes. "They've invested billions in misinformation about cannabis. They don't like having their message undermined by data and experience."

I called the public relations flack for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, this fall, seeking a copy of a traffic accident report. He sent me to the records office at their big new headquarters, on Martin Luther King Boulevard.

On the front door is a picture of a handgun with a slash through it, beneath which is printed, in large block letters, "NO WEAPONS."

So, disarmed as ordered--despite the fact Nevada is an open-carry state and I have a permit, to boot--I went in and was issued a number by the large woman behind the glass. I then sat and waited in the waiting room for about half an hour for my number to be called. Fortunately, I'd brought a book.

The numbers on the little slips of paper aren't in a single sequence. That is to say, if your number is R-239, and the last number called was R-237, you might think you're behind only the person who holds slip R-238. Not so. Before R-238 gets called, they may call G-722 and N-101.

While about a dozen other people and I waited, a young police officer came in. He was wearing a T-shirt but carried his shield (badge) on a cord around his neck. He was also carrying a black Glock holstered on his right hip, and a yellow hand weapon on his left hip--probably a Taser.

Perhaps Two-Gun Tommy didn't see the "NO WEAPONS" sign, which is at eye level on the door he came through. Perhaps the large woman handing him his numbered slip didn't notice he was armed, whereupon she would have reminded him to go back outside and leave his pieces in his vehicle.

Or perhaps the sign really means "Officers of the state may go armed at all times and places, but peasants dare not bear arms in our exalted presence, no matter what the Second Amendment says, and what are you going to do about it?"

Which answer do you find more likely?

And what do you think eventually happens to societies whose "law enforcement officers" believe the rules don't apply to them, and that all tax-paying supplicants must be disarmed before being allowed to crawl forward on our knees and beg a favor?

The young officer didn't even have time to sit down before they called his number--as the rest of us peasants continued to wait.

In the end, they wouldn't give me most of the accident report, concerning the death of one of Metro's own Corrections Officers, informing me the 35-page part about how the officer was given a shot of Phenergan by the nurse at the jail and told to drive home, after he tried to lift some heavy cots and immediately exhibited the classic signs of a heart attack while on duty, "wasn't the public part of the document."

The poor guy didn't make it two blocks from the jail before dying at the wheel, of a massive heart attack, per the coroner's office.

Declaring this an "off-duty" death, the department (which self-insures for workers' comp claims) wouldn't give him a $5,000 "honors funeral," and told the widow her workers' comp claim would probably be turned down--despite the fact that under the 1976 federal Public Safety Officers' Benefits Program, a death that occurs within 24 hours of an unusually strenuous or stressful event on the job is considered an on-duty death, qualifying for benefits.

Google my columns on "Victor Hunter."

Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the daily Las Vegas Review-Journal and author of The Black Arrow and The Ballad of Carl Drega. See
COPYRIGHT 2011 InterMedia Outdoors, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2011 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Suprynowicz, Vin
Publication:Shotgun News
Date:Dec 10, 2011
Previous Article:Ask the gunsmith: stones for sears.
Next Article:The smith & Wesson governor.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2021 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters