Judge: Taking Guns From Pot Smokers Unconstitutional

Jared Michael Harrison wins his federal case in Oklahoma
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 6, 2023 8:03 AM CST
Judge: Taking Guns From Pot Smokers Unconstitutional
People smoke cannabis outside a pop-up cannabis dispensary location on Jan. 24 in New York.   (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

A federal judge in Oklahoma has ruled that a federal law prohibiting people who use marijuana from owning firearms is unconstitutional, the latest challenge to firearms regulations after the US Supreme Court's conservative majority set new standards for reviewing the nation's gun laws. Lawyers for Jared Michael Harrison had argued that their client's Second Amendment right to bear arms was being violated by a federal law that makes it illegal for "unlawful users or addicts of controlled substances" to possess firearms, per the AP. Harrison had been charged after being arrested by police in Lawton, Oklahoma, in May 2022 following a traffic stop. During a search of his car, police found a loaded revolver, as well as marijuana. Harrison told police he'd been on his way to work at a medical marijuana dispensary, but that he didn't have a state-issued medical-marijuana card.

His lawyers had argued the portion of federal firearms law focused on drug users or addicts wasn't consistent with the nation's historical tradition of firearm regulation, echoing what the US Supreme Court ruled last year in a case known as New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. That case set new standards for interpreting the Second Amendment. Federal prosecutors had argued that the portion of the law focused on drug users is "consistent with a long-standing historical tradition in America of disarming presumptively risky persons, namely, felons, the mentally ill, and the intoxicated." US District Judge Patrick Wyrick in Oklahoma City agreed with Harrison's lawyers, ruling Friday that federal prosecutors' arguments that Harrison's status as a marijuana user "justifies stripping him of his fundamental right to possess a firearm" wasn't constitutional.

"The mere use of marijuana carries none of the characteristics that the Nation's history and tradition of firearms regulation supports," said Wyrick, who was appointed by former President Trump. In his ruling, Wyrick highlighted that under Oklahoma law, marijuana can be bought legally at more than 2,000 storefronts in the state. The ruling came a day after a three-judge panel of the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled that the government can't stop people who have domestic violence restraining orders against them from owning guns. The panel referenced the Bruen decision in its ruling. Two of the three judges on the panel are Trump appointees. The Justice Department has said it will seek further review of the appeals court's decision.

(More Second Amendment stories.)

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