By Jim Saunders, The News Service of Florida
TALLAHASSEE— A U.S. district judge has tossed out a lawsuit filed by Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and other plaintiffs challenging federal prohibitions on medical-marijuana patients buying and possessing guns.
Judge Allen Winsor on Friday issued a 22-page ruling that granted a request by the U.S. Department of Justice to dismiss the lawsuit, which alleged the prohibitions violate Second Amendment rights.
The dispute has been rooted in a conflict between federal and state laws. Under federal law, possession of marijuana is illegal; under a 2016 Florida constitutional amendment, hundreds of thousands of patients are able to buy medical marijuana.
Federal laws also bar certain people from buying and possessing guns, including people who use drugs illegally. The lawsuit, filed in April, alleged the federal prohibitions “forbid Floridians from possessing or purchasing a firearm on the sole basis that they are state-law-abiding medical marijuana patients.”
But Winsor, who is based in Tallahassee, cited the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause in saying that marijuana remains illegal, despite the Florida constitutional amendment.
“In 2016, Florida stopped criminalizing the medical use of marijuana. Many people refer to this change as Florida’s ‘legalizing’ medical marijuana, but Florida did no such thing. It couldn’t. ‘Under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, state laws cannot permit what federal law prohibits,’ and federal law still prohibits possession of marijuana — for medical purposes or otherwise,” Winsor wrote, partially quoting a legal precedent.
The lawsuit cited a federal law, known as the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, that bars Justice Department officials from using federal money to prevent states from carrying out their own medical-marijuana laws. The amendment has been attached to spending bills, which means it has to be renewed each year.
Winsor rejected arguments that the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment makes medical-marijuana use “akin to lawful conduct.”
“Regardless of whether plaintiffs are prosecuted (or whether Congress allocates funds for their prosecution), possession of marijuana remains a federal crime,” Winsor, who was appointed to the federal bench by former President Donald Trump, wrote. “The Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment at best precludes prosecution now; it does not forever bless plaintiffs’ actions.”
Fried was a medical-marijuana lobbyist before getting elected agriculture commissioner in 2018 and has been one of the state’s most-prominent supporters of medical cannabis.
Other plaintiffs in the case include two medical-marijuana patients who were barred from buying guns after disclosing on federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms, and Explosives forms that they use marijuana, according to Winsor’s ruling. Another plaintiff is a gun owner who would like to participate in the medical-marijuana program but has not because of the possibility of prosecution under federal law.
In addition to drug users, federal law prevents people such as felons and people with mental illnesses from buying and possessing guns. Winsor also cited historical examples of laws designed to keep guns away from “intoxicated” people.
“Plaintiffs recoil at being compared to the mentally ill, but one does not have to label marijuana users mentally ill to recognize that both categories of people can be dangerous when armed,” Winsor wrote. “Although the prohibition reaches those habitually using marijuana (even if not currently under the influence), habitual drug users are analogous to other groups the government has historically found too dangerous to have guns. At bottom, the historical tradition of keeping guns from those the government fairly views as dangerous — like alcoholics and the mentally ill — is sufficiently analogous to modern laws keeping guns from habitual users of controlled substances. This provides another justification for upholding the challenged laws.”
I’ve found the only thing I actually agree with her on, but only in the fact I think we need less gun laws, not more. Criminals don’t care about Concealed Cary or Gun Permits. These laws only impact law abiding citizens. Period.
Edward and Pat – right on!
I think social human behavior, namely the desire to CONTROL everyone and everything on earth is dangerous. Why do you spend all your time worrying about people whom you have never seen and likely will never meet? Why do you cower in fear and obsess over every step in your lives? If you had to hunt for food …Would you try to control the thoughts and actions of a grizzly bear to keep yourself safe? Or would you use your gun to survive? Or would you sacrifice yourself to the bear as a hearty meal before winter??
Frankly society is acting rather like a sociopathic stalker…constantly obsessing over someone whom they have no business thinking about.
Perhaps each should tend to his own,
On his own,
Until he or she can learn to be human again.
You have ALL spent TOO much time on the wire and it has caused some brain damage.
Life is short,
Please stop arguing over who gets to be the next oppressive Nazi and live life.
You don’t get TIME back people!!!!
You don’t get LIFE back!!!!!
It is a ONE time trip.
Why do the Marxicrats want to take away the ability for a law abiding citizens to protect themselves, while demanding that criminals and drug users be allowed to possess guns? This is why Marxicrats should not hold office… simply put, they are incapable of rational thought.
Adios Nikki. You tried to say Pot Smokers should have guns at the same time supporting the Democratic anti-21a agenda. You made it harder to get a CCW by changing to “appointment only” office hours where applicants had to wait outside.