ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Mar 8, 2021) – Last week, a Maryland Senate committee unanimously passed a bill that would prohibit the Maryland State Police from denying a medical marijuana cardholder the ability to purchase a firearm.
Sen. Michael Hough (R) introduced Senate Bill 190 (SB190) on Jan. 13. Under the proposed law, a person could not be denied the right to purchase, possess, or carry a firearm solely on the basis that they are authorized to use medical cannabis.
The Maryland State Police oversee gun registration and ownership in the state and they ask prospective gun buyers if they have a medical marijuana card. Buyers must allow the state health department to disclose whether they have applied for a card. MSP can block a gun purchase based on an individual’s participation in the state’s legal medical marijuana program. Passage of SB190 would put that to an end.
A similar bill passed the Senate in both 2019 and 2020, but failed to move forward in the Maryland House.
As Suzanne Sherman noted in an article for the Tenth Amendment Center, the federal government has long claimed the power to restrict the right to keep and bear arms of medical marijuana patients:
If you purchase a firearm from an FFL, you will be presented with the Firearms Transaction Record form 4473, which you must, under penalty of perjury, answer fully and truthfully. You may see it for yourself HERE.
Question 11(c) asks prospective gun purchasers if they are unlawfully using any controlled substances. You think, “Hey, I can answer ‘no,’ as marijuana is now legal in my state. Immediately following the inquiry is the following admonition (in bold letters):
“Warning: The use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under Federal law, regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medicinal or recreational purposes in the state where you reside.”
Not surprisingly, in 2016, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of appeals ruled that this restriction does not violate the Second Amendment.
Most states have adopted this federal ban on owning firearms for medical marijuana users, or simply help in its enforcement. In Hawaii, for example, police sent letters to medical marijuana patients who owned guns telling them they had 30 days to surrender their weapons.
While passage of SB190 wouldn’t overturn the federal Gun Control Act of 1968, it would end state and local enforcement of one aspect of that unconstitutional act in Maryland. And as we’ve seen so prominently in immigration sanctuary cities and states with marijuana legalization, when state and local enforcement ends, the federal government has an extremely difficult time enforcing their acts.
Based on James Madison’s advice for states and individuals in Federalist #46, a “refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union” offers an extremely effective method to bring down federal gun control measures because most enforcement actions rely on help, support and leadership from the states. Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano agreed. In a televised discussion on the issue, he noted that a single state taking this step would make federal gun laws “nearly impossible” to enforce.
In 2018, Utah became the first state to pass legislation to help make federal gun bans for medical marijuana patients “nearly impossible” to enforce. The law prohibits expending any state or local resources, including an officer’s time, to “enforce a law that restricts an individual’s right to acquire, own, or possess a firearm based solely on the individual’s possession or use of cannabis in accordance with state medical cannabis laws.”
SB190 will move to the House for further consideration. Once assigned to a House committee, it must pass by a majority vote before moving forward in the legislative process.
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