Florida’s Continuous Clash Between Cannabis and Guns

August 15, 2022 Criminal Defense, Drug Charges, News & Announcements

Update: In 2023, Appeals Court Rejects Federal Gun Ban for Marijuana Consumers

The fight for allowing medical marijuana users the ability to purchase firearms continues in the state of Florida. We have already covered information on Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried’s case being brought to the Supreme Court. Now the Department of Justice has filed a motion to dismiss her lawsuit, leading to outrage by Fried.

We will provide details on the lawsuit, the motion, and the responses regarding the ongoing debate.

Nikki Fried’s Lawsuit

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried filed a lawsuit against the federal government back in April 2022. Fried believes there is an issue regarding infringing on the rights of Florida citizens who obtain a medical marijuana license and also want to own a gun.

The defendants in the lawsuit are Attorney General Merrick Garland, as well as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Since 2011 the ATF has warned about the potential dangers of providing a federal firearms license to those who are “addicted to marijuana.”

Fried claimed that this refusal is a “discrimination unique to medical marijuana patients…misguided and dangerous cannabis prohibition. Denying the Second Amendment rights of medical marijuana users is not about safety,” Fried commented.

Fried explained that the current federal policy forces citizens in Florida to choose between the medicine they need or their rights as an American. She also pointed out that Florida is not unique in having medical marijuana programs—there are 37 other states who have similar programs.

Fried has a concealed carry permit herself, along with a medical marijuana license.

Department of Justice’s Motion

The Department of Justice has filed a motion to dismiss Fried’s lawsuit under the state’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The argument pushed by the Justice Department is that it is “dangerous to trust a regular marijuana user to exercise sound judgement” with guns, as cannabis “causes significant mental and physical impairments that make it dangerous for a person to possess a firearm.”

The motion is still in support of disqualifying the 740,000 Floridians with medical marijuana cards from legally purchasing a gun. The Department of Justice claimed that, although medical marijuana is legal in Florida, cannabis is still illegal to purchase under federal law. For this reason, they believe that prohibiting marijuana users from purchasing guns is justified.

In the motion, the Department of Justice declared that marijuana users “pose a danger comparable to, if not greater than, other groups that have historically been disarmed.” The Department also mentioned how, in the past, there have been continuous laws to prevent “groups deemed dangerous” from possessing firearms. “Many American colonies forbade providing Indians with firearms,” the Department wrote.

You can find the full motion and memorandum here.


Fried’s lawsuit included the fact that there has been no historical tradition of denying individuals the right to the Second Amendment only based on the use of marijuana. “In fact, historical evidence shows that marijuana was considered a legitimate and legal form of medicine in England, America, and other western countries through the mid-Nineteenth and early-Twentieth Centuries,” Fried explained.

The Department of Justice also included a consent form from the Florida Board of Medicine, which acknowledged that marijuana impairs the ability to think, judge and reason. “It is therefore dangerous to trust regular marijuana users to exercise sound judgement while intoxicated, a fact tragically borne out by the frequency with which marijuana users drive while impaired and suffer fatal collisions,” the Department’s lawyer argued.

Fried was clearly upset with the motion to dismiss her lawsuit. “I filed this lawsuit to bring attention to how the federal government’s inconsistent and illogical cannabis policies are creating not only confusion, but actual harm,” Fried said on Tuesday.

 In a post on Twitter, Fried responded that she is disappointed in the Department of Justice for moving to dismiss her case, and pushing offensive and harmful prejudicial stereotypes on users of cannabis.

The following is the full statement made by Fried in response to the DOJ’s motion:

“The federal prohibition of a state-legal medicine continues to harm patients, imprison tens of thousands of Americans, and stifle the growth of this growing industry to the detriment of our economy. It is beyond disappointing that with this motion to dismiss, rather than taking this opportunity to address this violation of cannabis patients’ constitutional rights, the Department of Justice has chosen to double down on harmful prohibition policies. DOJ’s argument is as offensive as it is inaccurate, utilizing centuries-old case law and making false claims demonizing medical marijuana patients—including perpetuating prejudicial stereotypes that cannabis users are dangerous or mentally ill.

I filed this lawsuit to bring attention to how the federal government’s inconsistent and illogical cannabis policies are creating not only confusion, but actual harm. Unfortunately, the issue raised in our lawsuit is just one of the many dilemmas posed that is affecting a massive number of Floridians and even more patients nationwide. Though this particular pathway intended to move much-needed cannabis reform forward might be cut off, I will never stop looking for outside-the-box ways we can further this fight until we achieve full and equitable legalization.”


Florida’s Current Stance on Medical Marijuana Cards and Guns

Under Federal Law, any patient with a Florida medical marijuana card is unable to legally purchase a firearm. Marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug under 21 U.S.C 802. When purchasing a firearm, you are required to fill out the ATF Form 4478. The form specifically asks if you are an “unlawful user” of illicit drugs. Since marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug, any method of consuming marijuana classifies an individual as an “unlawful user”—even if it is for medical purposes. Answering yes on the form means that you would be unable to purchase a firearm.

To find out more about medical marijuana and guns, read our informative page here.

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

If you or a loved one has been accused of a crime involving marijuana, firearms, or both, you should prioritize reaching out to a skilled criminal defense attorney in your area. Although medical marijuana and guns are both legal in the state of Florida, it is still a violation of federal law to obtain both as a Florida citizen. A violation of the law can result in serious consequences. The best way to ensure your freedom is to build a strong defense with an experienced defense attorney. Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have represented clients across the state for various crimes. We vow to stand by your side throughout the entire legal process. For a free consultation call (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message today.

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