Despite cannabis turning into a multi-billion dollar industry that employs nearly 425,000 people and will likely be legal in half of the United States of America by the end of the 2024 election, the fact that the plant is still heavily illegal on the federal level means that numerous issues arise when discussing constitutional rights and cannabis. Because cannabis is a Schedule I on the DEA’s Controlled Substances List, cannabis is technically prohibited in all federal buildings and federal property such as national parks as well. This is unfortunate news for medical patients, as they’re essentially banned from those properties if those patients need their medicine on their person. Even worse, those patients are technically committing a federal crime if they cross state lines with their medicine. The issues that occur because of this particular prohibition deprive medical patients greatly of the buildings they’re allowed to enter.
Another hugely inconvenient way that the federal policy surrounding cannabis denies constitutional rights to the citizens is when it comes to 2nd Amendment rights. A law so ingrained in the ethos of America that it’s become a predominant stereotype of the country and created a $20 billion a year industry, the right to bear arms is being hotly debated and litigated on all levels of government. No matter how many billion dollars the cannabis industry produces every year and no matter how many thousands of jobs are created, the plant is still considered a Schedule I substance until the United States Legislature decides to actually pass a descheduling bill. On the federal level, being in the possession of a Schedule I drug while owning firearms is illegal for several reasons.
And with the recent addition of Minnesota in the Legal States, the federal agencies haven’t wasted any time to remind everyone of the long held federal prohibition of cannabis and how they still interfere with many aspects and constitutional rights of American life. One notorious federal agency, the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Division (ATF) issued a statement from their office in St. Paul about the recent legalization and how it impacts both Minnesota and federal laws about gun ownership and cannabis possession.“The federal Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibits any person who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance as defined by the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 from shipping, transporting, receiving, or possessing firearms or ammunition.” the ATF’s bulletin stated. Both these pieces of legislation were passed in the early years of the Drug War, so cannabis legalization was a pipe dream of a concept that legislators in the late 1960’s would never have considered.
“Until marijuana is legalized federally, firearms owners and possessors should be mindful that it remains federally illegal to mix marijuana with firearms and ammunition,” said Jeff Reed, ATF’s acting special agent in charge of the St. Paul field division. “As regulators of the firearms industry and enforcers of firearms laws, we felt it was important to remind Minnesotans of this distinction as the marijuana laws adjust here in the State of Minnesota.”
“People who are looking to purchase firearms must attest whether or not they are an unlawful user of marijuana on an ATF Form 4473 during a firearm transaction.” the ATF strictly stated. Given the federal prohibition of cannabis, literally every cannabis user is considered an unlawful user. Every libertarian’s favorite government agency then stated the objectively disproven law surrounding why cannabis is the highest level on the Controlled Substances List. “Marijuana is considered a Schedule I drug, which under federaldefinition, has no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” By the end of the 2024 election cycle, medical cannabis will be legally permitted in nearly 40 states. The diversity among cannabis consumers of both their walk of life as well as the condition that they use cannabis for is vast and undeniably shows how medicinally vital the plant is for large portions of America. And yet no matter how many states will implement a medical cannabis program, the federal government keeps this statute in place. As a friendly reminder, cannabis holds this status alongside heroin, LSD, peyote and ecstasy.
By comparison, opiates and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl kill several thousands of Americans every year, yet every type of opiate is listed as Schedule II. Yet, this legal deprivation of 2nd Amendment rights is just the latest in a mountain of instances of how the federal cannabis law counteracts and complicates state law. And until a comprehensive piece of federal legislation is passed in the very tribalistic United States Legislature and signed by the sitting President, these legal clashes will continue to occur.