Marijuana users cannot be barred from owning guns, US court rules

By Nate Raymond | Reuters

Aug 9 (Reuters) – A federal appeals court on Wednesday ruled that a decades-old law prohibiting users of illegal drugs from owning firearms was unconstitutional as applied to the case of a marijuana user, the latest fallout from a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year that expanded gun rights.

A three-judge panel of the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that the federal law violated a Mississippi man’s right to “keep and bear arms” under the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment.

The man, Patrick Daniels, had been convicted under that law after law enforcement found a pistol and a semi-automatic rifle in his vehicle during a traffic stop along with marijuana cigarette butts.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration did not administer a drug test, though Daniels admitted he sometimes smoked marijuana, which federal law prohibits. He was sentenced to nearly four years in prison.

While his case was pending, the conservative-majority Supreme Court in June 2022 declared for the first time that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to carry a handgun in public for self-defense.

That decision, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, also announced a new test for assessing firearms laws, saying restrictions must be “consistent with this nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”


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August 2023