In Miami Wednesday, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried discussed her Department’s lawsuit against the federal government over what she sees as infringement on the rights of medical cannabis patients via “conflicts” between state and federal laws.
In this instance, Fried takes issue with a federal rule banning gun ownership for cannabis patients. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and Attorney General Merrick Garland are defendants in the case.
Appearing with advocates at the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference, the first-term Democratic Commissioner and former cannabis lobbyist said she heard about this issue often, noting that medical marijuana patients often have questions about whether they can legally buy firearms given federal law.
Fried holds a medical marijuana license and a concealed carry permit, she noted.
Fried slammed “discrimination unique to medical marijuana patients” as a result of the federal government’s “misguided and dangerous cannabis prohibition,” rolling out the lawsuit against a diminishing of cannabis users’ Second Amendment rights.
“Denying the Second Amendment rights of medical marijuana users is not about safety,” Fried said.
Guidance from the ATF dating back to 2011 warns federal firearm licensees against selling to a known user of or someone who is “addicted to marijuana.” Prospective gun owners must answer questions about cannabis use honestly or face potential criminal penalties.
Fried was accompanied Wednesday by cannabis patients who faced that question, having purchases of guns denied for honestly answering the question.
“Current federal policy forces them to choose between their rights and their medicine,” Fried said.
The issue extends beyond Florida, as 37 states have medical cannabis programs, Fried noted.
The suit was rolled out on April 20 (4/20), a day of significance for cannabis enthusiasts. Fried said the term was slang for a “police call on marijuana” and framed the day as part of a larger “protest” against federal prohibition.
One opponent of Fried’s in the race for Governor approves of the sentiment of the lawsuit, but wonders why now.
Rep. Charlie Crist said Wednesday in Tallahassee that Fried showed “interesting timing.”
“You know, the Biden administration has a lot of things it’s dealing with right now. I think that marijuana should be legalized recreationally. I think it’s appropriate. I don’t know if this is the best timing for such a lawsuit. But everybody has to do what they feel is important. And I’m sure that’s what she’s doing,” the Congressman and former Governor said.