WUSF 89.7 – With an appeals court slated to hear arguments in October, a Florida lawsuit challenging a federal prohibition on medical marijuana patients buying and possessing guns might have received support this week.
The lawsuit alleges that the prohibition violates Second Amendment rights. But U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor in November granted a request by the federal government to dismiss the case.
In a separate lawsuit, however, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals this week ruled that the prohibition violated the Second Amendment rights of a Mississippi man who was prosecuted and barred from having guns after authorities found marijuana in his car.
An appeal in the Florida case will be heard Oct. 5 by a panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The U.S. Department of Justice made a filing Friday informing the Atlanta-based court of the ruling in the Mississippi case — though it argued the case was “incorrectly decided.”
The Florida lawsuit is rooted in a conflict between federal and state laws. Under federal law, possession of marijuana is illegal; under a 2016 Florida constitutional amendment, hundreds of thousands of patients are able to buy medical marijuana.
“Poor decision-making by chronic marijuana users is associated with decreased functional responsiveness to negative consequences.” – NIH
Federal laws also bar certain people from buying and possessing guns, including people who use drugs illegally.
In dismissing the Florida lawsuit, Winsor cited the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, which generally leads to federal laws trumping state laws;
Winsor wrote, partially quoting a legal precedent:
“In 2016, Florida stopped criminalizing the medical use of marijuana. Many people refer to this change as Florida’s ‘legalizing’ medical marijuana, but Florida did no such thing.
“It couldn’t. ‘Under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, state laws cannot permit what federal law prohibits,’ and federal law still prohibits possession of marijuana — for medical purposes or otherwise … ”