Fee Stories reports…
The case could have far-reaching Second Amendment implications and has the potential to affect millions of gun owners in the U.S.
On an April afternoon in 2018, Dr. Matthew Roman and a friend drove together to a Philadelphia gun store, Firing Lane Inc. Seeking to purchase a firearm for home defense, Roman walked up to a clerk and asked to see a Smith and Wesson 638.
Sorry, the clerk told him, no gun.
After Roman, 33, indicated he’d like to purchase the small six-shooter, the clerk began to ask Roman a few questions, including if he possessed a medical cannabis card, pursuant to question 11e on the ATF’s 4473 form. Roman, who has no criminal history, told the clerk truthfully that he has a medical prescription for marijuana. Sorry, the clerk told him, no gun.
Roman’s application was denied due to his medical use of cannabis, which is legal in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In November, he filed a lawsuit that names acting attorney general Michael Whitaker and the directors of the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).
The case could have far-reaching Second Amendment implications and has the potential to affect millions of gun owners in the U.S. (Medical marijuana use is legal in 32 states.)
A Legitimate Use of Medical Marijuana
In addition to being licensed to prescribe marijuana for medical use in Pennsylvania, Roman also has his own license and uses the plant to treat his post-traumatic stress disorder, one of the most commonly accepted uses.
Roman has no criminal history—of violence or any other offenses. But because of the 1968 Gun Control Act, and the federal government’s continued designation of cannabis as a Schedule I drug, his purchase was denied—even though medical marijuana is legal in most U.S. states.
The ATF asserted that medical marijuana users were not entitled to exercise their right to bear arms because of the federal government’s prohibition [of Marijuana].
The 1968 law prohibits anyone who uses an “unlawful” substance from purchasing a firearm. Roman is asserting this violates the Second Amendment, as well as his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination; federal firearm transaction forms require medical marijuana users to report that they use the drug unlawfully even when it is legal in their state.
Though the 1968 law has been on the books for decades, in 2011, the ATF issued a clarifying statement to federal firearms licensees asserting medical marijuana users were not entitled to exercise their right to bear arms because of the federal government’s prohibition. Citing the government’s inclusion of the popular plant in the Controlled Substances Act, the agency said: “[T]here are no exceptions in federal law for marijuana purportedly used for medicinal purposes, even if such use is sanctioned by state law.”
According to Roman’s complaint:
Defendants have intentionally denied those who have registered to use medical cannabis pursuant to state law the right to lawfully purchase firearms without providing any due process prior to depriving this class of individuals of their constitutional right.
The complaint argues that “this strict, rigid, blanket prohibition violates the fundamental constitutional rights of tens of thousands of non-violent, law-abiding citizens, and thus violates the Second and Fifth Amendments of the Constitution.”