Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, the Sunshine State’s only statewide elected Democrat, has announced plans to sue the Biden administration over federal rules that govern medical cannabis and firearms.
Fried announced the lawsuit April 20, taking aim at a federal requirement that bars medical cannabis patients from purchasing guns or maintaining concealed-carry permits, according to an NBC News report.
The lawsuit centers on a federal form that asks whether a gun buyer is an unlawful drug user and specifies that cannabis is federally illegal, the news outlet reported. An individual enrolled as a patient in a state-legal medical cannabis program must check “yes” and the purchase must be denied, and checking “no” constitutes making a false statement on a federal form, an offense that carries the threat of a five-year prison sentence, according to NBC News.
“No patient should have to choose between their medicine and employment, or a roof over their head, or access to capital—or their constitutional rights,” Fried said in a public statement. “While we continue to call for full cannabis legalization to resolve the many issues caused by irrational, inconsistent, and incoherent federal cannabis policies, we are here today to announce we are filing suit against the federal government over its violation of patients’ Second Amendment rights due to federal law deeming it illegal for a medical marijuana cardholder to purchase a firearm.”
Fried argues in her lawsuit that barring medical cannabis patients from purchasing firearms and maintaining concealed-carry permits not only violates their Second Amendment rights, but also violates a congressional budget that bars federal agents from interfering with state-sanctioned cannabis laws.
Fried filed the lawsuit with three citizens who have been impacted by the federal requirements regarding medical cannabis and firearms, and the filing names the acting head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and Attorney General Merrick Garland as defendants.
A spokesperson for ATF told NBC News that the agency “can’t speculate on possible litigation or discuss any pending litigation,” but said federal lawmakers could remedy the situation by amending the Controlled Substances Act and Gun Control Act, the regulatory frameworks that govern cannabis and firearms.
“Let me be clear: I am in no way challenging the federal government’s right to enact reasonable gun regulations that protect the public,” Fried said in a public statement. “In fact, I believe the federal government needs to take more common-sense actions to keep families and communities safe from the senseless and horrific gun violence that has tragically impacted our state over the years—and my record speaks to that. But denying the Second Amendment rights of medical marijuana patients is not about safety as there is no evidence that medical marijuana use makes individuals more dangerous or violent. What this is, plain and simple, is yet another violation of medical marijuana patients’ rights due to discrepancies between federal and state cannabis laws."