DENVER, Colo. (Feb. 5, 2019) – A bill introduced in the Colorado Senate would deliver a blow to federal marijuana prohibition by allowing people convicted of federal marijuana-related offenses to obtain concealed carry licenses if their actions were legal under state law.
Introduced by Sen. Vicki Marble (R-Colfax) on Jan. 23, Senate Bill 93 (SB93) would amend existing state law directing sheriffs to deny applications for a concealed carry license if the applicant qualifies as an “unlawful user of a controlled substance” under federal law. SB93 clarifies a person is not prohibited from carrying a firearm if the prior conviction was for the possession or use of marijuana that was lawfully possessed or used pursuant to the Colorado constitution.
SB93 also prohibits the state Department of Safety from sharing information related to its medical marijuana registry with law enforcement as part of a firearms background check.
If passed, SB93 would further undermine federal marijuana prohibition by removing another barrier for cannabis users. One way to stymie a decriminalized industry is by placing restrictions that discourage its use and make it de facto illegal. Preventing people who defy federal marijuana prohibition from exercising their right to keep and bear arms is an excellent example of that.
However, the fact that this bill needs to be introduced reveals a separate problem with concealed carry licenses and why they’re such a bad idea. If the ability to exercise one’s gun rights is contingent on adhering to federal laws, then gun owners are at the mercy of the feds. It also makes it easy for the federal government to clamp down on collective grassroots resistance to unconstitutional laws by stripping Americans of other rights.
As marijuana becomes more accepted and more states simply ignore the feds, the federal government is less able to enforce its unconstitutional laws. However, all of this remains prohibited under the 1970 federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate marijuana within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.
Legalization of marijuana in Colorado removed a huge layer of laws prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana, something that will be extremely difficult for federal prohibitionists to overcome. FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By legalizing cannabis, the state essentially swept away the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.
Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly-budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.
A GROWING MOVEMENT
Along with Colorado, Washington state, Oregon and Alaska were the first states to legalize recreational cannabis, and California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts joined them after ballot initiatives in favor of legalization passed in November 2016. In 2018, Michigan voters approved recreational marijuana and Vermont became the first state to fully legalize marijuana through a legislative act.
With 33 states including allowing cannabis for medical use, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition anymore.
“The lesson here is pretty straightforward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations or mandates down our throats,” Tenth Amendment Center founder and executive director Michael Boldin said.
Efforts to expand Colorado’s marijuana law and protect cannabis users demonstrates another important reality. Once a state puts laws in place legalizing marijuana, it tends to eventually expand. As the state tears down some barriers, markets develop and demand expands. That creates pressure to further relax state law.
SB93 has been referred to the Senate Committee on State, Veterans, & Military Affairs, where it will need a majority vote before it can advance.
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