By Todd McCormick

If you asked any convicted felon if they have a legal right to possess a firearm, they would say no. They know this because the court informed them, because their conviction, the Second Amendment no longer applies to them and if they’re caught with a firearm, or even ammunition, they face more time in prison for the illegal possession of firearms than the crime they are caught committing.

Now if you were to ask someone who has never been convicted of anything, but they carry a medical marijuana card or live in a state where cannabis is now legal, and like to partake occasionally, if they think that they have a right to own or possess a firearm, they would of course say yes, but they would be wrong.

I am really writing this as a public service announcement in hopes that I don’t see more of my friends do more time in prison facing gun charges for possessing what they thought were legal guns. It seems that the cannabis community does not understand that the federal government takes away your Second Amendment rights as soon as you pick up a joint, no matter the marijuana legality in your state or if you are dying of cancer. 

Yes, you read that right. As soon as you toke, take a bong hit, smoke a ‘J’, eat a brownie, vaporize, or otherwise ingest a Schedule I substance, you completely lose your right to own, possess, or handle, any type of firearm or ammunition. 

Or as the 9th Circuit pointed out in Wilson vs. Lynch:

“Turning to federal firearms provisions, under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(3) no person ‘who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance’ may “possess . . . or . . . receive any firearm or ammunition.” In addition, it is unlawful for “any person to sell or otherwise dispose of any firearm or ammunition to any person knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that such person . . . is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance.” 

And it gets worse, because what the federal court defines as an “unlawful user”, has nothing to do with your state laws and everything to do with the controlled substances act, and the fact that cannabis is currently a Schedule- I controlled substance. 

State law is always superseded by federal law; when you go into a federal courtroom, state laws are inadmissible, a federal judge will not listen to the defendant argued that any state law supersedes the Constitution of the United States. So even when states pass medical marijuana laws that specifically do not exempt a medical marijuana user from any other rights; the medical marijuana user still loses their right to own and possess a firearm or ammunition under federal law. 

So if you are a medical marijuana patient, or a casual user of cannabis and you are charged with any sort of federal crime, your guns will be used against you to enhance your sentence and give you more time in federal prison.

I know many of you would say that policy is very hypocritical in light of how wineries or beer manufacturers are treated, but we live in the age of hypocrisy and more than anything, I hate seeing good people get additional time added on their sentence for cannabis cultivation, simply because they were in possession of a firearm. Even an antique firearm passed down within a family and kept simply for sentimental reasons will be used as a reason to give you additional time by the federal government.

Prosecutors call them “enhancements” to a sentence, tacking them on to give them leverage against the defendant. This defendant is now facing an otherwise obscenely long period of time in prison, not for the cannabis per se, but because of the guns. Gun enhancements have been a trap, used by cops and prosecutors in the war on drugs for decades. But back then, criminals understood the Rules of Engagement, and realized they were carrying an illegal firearm. Now, otherwise law-abiding citizens are at risk because they are doing something completely legal in the state they live in. However, because of the conflict with federal laws, and the fact that the federal government controls the Second Amendment, their simple possession of firearms makes them criminals in the eyes of the federal government and courts. 

I’m sure the police department and federal government loves the fact that most people don’t need people snitching on them, because they’re snitching on themselves through social media. I can’t tell you how many social media profiles that I have seen with fields of cannabis or indoor grow rooms that look beautiful, and then pistols, or targets from the range. You know what I’m talking about, as you have seen it as well, and so do the police who monitor social media.

Now I say this not to sound like some conspiracy nut, because I’m not, or to make you paranoid, as everything I’m saying is factual. I am saying this because a lot of people seem to pick and choose the laws that they want to abide by. You may like the Second Amendment, but you may also like the fact that your state legalized cannabis and now you feel you have a right to grow or smoke, which you do. But you have to know that you’re giving up one right for another right. If you keep your guns, the same government that has been lying to you about cannabis for most of the 20th century and going into the 21st century, will also use those guns against you in the court of law.

So in short, if you think that the Second Amendment guarantees you a right to bear arms, you are right. But you need to know you give up that right as soon as you pick up a cannabis product, medical or not, and consume it.

The ATF has updated form 4473 to include the question 11 e, which asked if you are a user or in possession of marijuana. If you lie on this form, you face a year in federal prison for simply lying, an important thing to keep in mind if you are trying to purchase a new gun. If you lie, and they find out, and you are denied the purchase of the firearm, you will be charged for lying on the form in federal court.

“11 e.: Are you an unlawful (remember, they’re talking federal laws not state) user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance? Warning: The use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medical or recreational purposes in the state where you reside.”

You may be wondering, how does this affect the firearms I already own? Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you are a medical marijuana card holder or recreational user in a legal state, you no longer have a right to own and possess them or even the ammunition. If ever you are arrested by the federal government, they will confiscate all of your weapons, as, in their eyes, your right to own them or the ammunition evaporated when you chose to break federal law and use a Schedule I controlled substance.

If you think this is hypocritical, you’re right. If you think that cannabis growers should have the same rights as people who produce alcohol or run a winery, you’re right again. But in order to be legal instead of just right, you’re going to have to do something about the federal laws and demand equal rights on the federal level. You’re going to have to fight for the federal legalization of cannabis, just like we have had to fight for the legalization of cannabis on the state level. Because until you change the federal laws, you can’t point to a federal law, including the second amendment of the Constitution, and say that it gives you freedom, while ignoring the other federal laws that strip those freedoms away from you if you are breaking other federal laws. 

So to all my friends who are proponents of the Second Amendment, please stop compromising your and your family’s freedoms by advertising publicly the weapons you own on a Instagram or Facebook, neatly pictured next to your garden and its products. And while you’re thinking about all this, please take some time and call your representatives, asking them for a solution to this legal conundrum. We all have to demand equal rights or we will never see them. Stay safe! 

Todd McCormick is the author of How To Grow Medical Marijuana and the soon to be released GrowMEDICINE, he also appears in the documentary: The Union: The Business Behind Getting High and was the editor of the 12th edition of Jack Herer’s, classic: The Emperor Wears No Clothes – He is currently an executive producer on the soon to be released documentary: The Culture High