Florida official explains marijuana and the Second Amendment lawsuit during meeting with gun violence prevention activists

Florida Agriculture Commissioner and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried held a meeting Thursday with gun violence prevention activists to address the lawsuit she recently filed against the Biden administration that seeks to protect Second Amendment rights for medical marijuana patients.

And while some progressive advocates initially balked at taking action to increase some people’s ability to own firearms, key community members say Fried’s outreach and education helped raise awareness. to ongoing legal issues, and they support the effort on a constitutional and public level. security basis.

Fried has been keen to align himself with the cannabis reform movement throughout his tenure and campaign, but mixing that advocacy with gun rights issues has apparently raised questions within the cannabis community. prevention. To help facilitate a conversation and answer questions, the father of a Parkland shooting victim reached out to Fried and scheduled a virtual meeting with a dozen other movement activists.

Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was killed in the 2018 mass shooting, told Marijuana Moment in a Friday phone interview that when he first read the news about the lawsuit, his “instinct initial was not to understand what the commissioner was doing”. But after they spoke on the phone, “she explained everything about the lawsuit – what she was doing and why – and it made perfect sense to me. But I needed that information.

Fried “wants to bring every legal, legitimate person through the background check process ‘to buy a gun,’ and frankly, I support that,” Guttenberg said. In that sense, he said, allowing medical cannabis patients to complete federal firearms purchase forms without being penalized for participating in a legal state program is also a matter of public security.

“If they want a gun, as we know, in a country that currently has 400 million guns, it’s not like it’s going to be that hard to find a way to get one,” he said. he declared. “I’d rather they get the background check.”

Guttenberg stressed that he was not against the Second Amendment or people’s right to legally own guns. He is simply against gun violence and looking for ways to reduce the national epidemic. Fried’s lawsuit “both supports the Second Amendment and supports the idea of ​​doing more to reduce gun violence,” he said.

“I think the largest [gun violence prevention] community, with understanding, will most certainly support what they are doing. And I think his message was definitely well received,” he said. “You know, I think everyone understood that it wasn’t about weakening gun laws. This is actually an effort to ensure that more people who will end up getting firearms one way or another will do so by doing background checks. I think that came through loud and clear, while supporting the reality that this is a country that is moving towards marijuana legalization, and we have to deal with that.

When contacted by Marijuana Moment, Fried’s office declined to provide specific details about the call with gun violence prevention advocates, citing the confidentiality of the conversation led by the organizer.

Another activist, whose initial reaction to the lawsuit was to withdraw his endorsement of Fried in the gubernatorial race, later reversed course, explaining in a Twitter thread how he had been misinformed about the kinds of conditions that can qualify the patients for medical cannabis.

David Weissman, a military veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and writes for the progressive site OccupyDemocrats.com, said he got the impression that marijuana was only recommended to patients for mental health issues , and he doesn’t agree that people with such disorders should be able to buy and own firearms.

Fried’s “actions show that she will defend the constitution,” he said after learning that medical cannabis could also be recommended for physical conditions such as pain.

As it stands, to buy a gun, people have to fill out a federal form that explicitly asks about the use of illegal drugs, including cannabis. Those who admit to using marijuana are not eligible to make the purchase and could face up to five years in prison if they lie, regardless of state cannabis laws.

“To be clear, I in no way dispute the right of the federal government to enact reasonable firearms regulations that protect the public,” Fried said during a press briefing when she filed the lawsuit. justice on the unofficial 4/20 marijuana holiday. And at this point, the commissioner has even taken more recent steps to revoke the firearms licenses of those involved in the January 6 uprising at the United States Capitol.

Fried filed the lawsuit alongside two medical marijuana patients in the state, as well as Neill Franklin, a retired police officer and former executive director of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP) who declined to use medical cannabis despite its therapeutic value for the pain he experiences due to potential gun rights ramifications.

The lawsuit is against Attorney General Merrick Garland and the head of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

The lawsuit states that the “irrational, inconsistent, and inconsistent federal marijuana policy of the DOJ and ATF undermines Florida’s medical marijuana and firearms laws and prevents Commissioner Fried from ensuring that Floridians receive the rights of the State concerning them”.

Denying Second Amendment rights to people who legally use medical marijuana under state law “does not survive any level of proper legal scrutiny,” it says.

A key part of the legal challenge is based on a unique interpretation of a Congressional spending bill addendum known as the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, which bars the Justice Department from using federal funds. to interfere in the implementation of state medical cannabis programs.

By preventing people from using medical marijuana without risking losing their right to purchase firearms, the federal government effectively violates this endorsement by preventing Florida from adding new patients to expand its program, the suit says. .

The lawsuit seeks to bar federal agencies from enforcing the gun ban based on the legal use of medical marijuana on the grounds that the policy violates the Second Amendment and Congressional endorsement.

He also specifically challenges the rationale for the ban, arguing that marijuana use does not make a person more prone to violent or dangerous behavior.

“If the defendants were correct that the use of medical marijuana resulted in an increase in violent behavior, it would be reasonable to expect relevant violent crime statistics to confirm this,” the report said. “However, as these facts and evidence to be obtained at trial will show, that is not the case.”

In 2020, the ATF issued an advisory specifically targeting Michigan that requires gun sellers to perform federal background checks on all unlicensed firearm buyers, as it said the laws on state cannabis had allowed “habitual marijuana users” and other disqualified individuals to obtain firearms illegally.

There have been previous efforts in Congress to specifically protect medical cannabis patients from losing their right to purchase and own firearms, but these efforts have not been implemented.

Back in Florida, the commissioner aligned herself closely with the cannabis reform movement, supporting legalization and working to support the state’s hemp industry.

For example, the department she oversees recently announced a scholarship essay contest where Florida students in grades 4 through 12 are invited to brainstorm new uses for hemp.

Fried has publicly stated that she holds a medical cannabis card in the state and previously lobbied on behalf of a plant farm that was later taken over by a major cannabis company before becoming Florida’s top agricultural regulator.

She frequently talks about her advocacy for cannabis policy reform on social media, and she has investments in a marijuana company.

Regulators in his office have criticized Oregon hemp companies for hemp products they say contain rocks and sticks and failed to meet regulatory guidelines on allowable THC content. Instead, consumers should buy local products made in Florida, Fried’s department said.

In 2018, national bank Wells Fargo fired Fried as a client because her campaign received donations from “medical marijuana industry lobbyists.”

Colorado Bill to Legalize MDMA Prescriptions Heads to Governor After Senate Passes

Marijuana Moment is made possible by the support of readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon Pledge.

Comments are closed.