The Devil’s Cabbage.
The Gateway Drug.
Marijuana has had a fascinating history since the end of Prohibition. Without getting into the philosophical arguments associated with decriminalization… Many of you know my libertarian beliefs… I fundamentally believe that YOU own your body… What you do with it is totally within your own jurisdiction. You can sell your body for labor; you can sell your mind and intellect for commercial purposes. If we extrapolate that to the natural conclusion, what you put into your body is completely up to you. If the State has a right to control what you consume, or how you sell your labor, then it means the State has a higher property interest in your body than you do.
That is where I get all squeamish.
Apparently, there are quite a few of you who tend to agree with me… or at least are more interested in the pharmaceutical benefits of marijuana than the philosophical arguments surrounding its usage.
This last week I received several calls about marijuana, and how it relates to guns.
Some background information is in order: Most people believe that, to some degree, marijuana is legal in California and a number of other states as well. This is not an entirely true statement. Marijuana is not “illegal” under state law. It is, however, a federally controlled substance. As such, it is completely within the jurisdiction of the Feds to regulate, and, if they choose, prosecute a marijuana user or seller.
The 4473 Form you fill out when you buy or transfer a gun is a federal document.
That document (which you are signing under the penalty of perjury) §11 (e) reads as follows, “Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance? Warning: The use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under Federal law, regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medicinal or recreational purposes in the state where you reside.”
Hmmmm… Well, that is pretty clear.
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So… the questions I usually get go something like this:
“Hey Steven…. hang on… I’m just looking at how all of these molecules in the air are forming into a gas… Whoa! Sorry about that, um… So, if I have a Medical Marijuana Identification Card… Sorry… if a friend of mine has a Medical Marijuana ID Card… can they still like, you know, buy a gun”?
“ALRIGHT! That’s awesome dude!… Wait, uh… what do you mean possibly?”
“So here is the thing. The 4473 Form requires you make a declarative statement that you are not an “unlawful user.” If you say you are not, we will take your word for it. That being said, a Medical Marijuana ID Card does not conclusively rebut the presumption that you are being honest in your statement that you are not an “unlawful user." It simply means that you are in possession of a Medical Marijuana ID Card. There are a number of reasons why you might possess that card: 1) You like the look of the card; 2) You like having multiple licenses in your wallet; 3) You own a medical marijuana business; or, 4) You think our drug laws are asinine and even though you are not a drug user, you want to show your solidarity with the zombies and the rehab clinics.”
“Oh yeah… okay… so, I uh, I don’t do drugs, dude.”
“Nah… I like my reality as it is man.”
“Of course you do.”
The exchange above, notwithstanding the confusion around marijuana and its relationship to firearms ownership, has proven to be quite confusing to many. To make matters even more complex, Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, announced on Thursday of last week that he would be ending the policy of the DOJ not prosecuting medical marijuana dispensaries for violation of federal law. (Well, that is not exactly what he said… What he is really doing is allowing his Deputy US Attorneys to use prosecutorial discretion when it comes to going after these dispensaries.)
Regardless, an individual that is “using” marijuana may not be in possession of a firearm. This creates the next rabbit hole; what exactly is “using”? Is using contemporaneous with the possession of the gun? Is it constructive possession? When filling out the 4473 Form, is it at that exact moment in time that is under discussion? (“Well, right now I’m not an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana… Can’t say the same tonight after I get done watching Bonanza on TV Land!”)
As is often the case, there are no clear-cut answers… What I can tell you is that your body truly is your temple… treat it like one. While I am antagonistic toward laws that mandate how you live your life, or what you do with, or put into, your body, I also have a rational mind. I would never suggest a law is necessary to prevent someone from jumping off a cliff… but I would not recommend that activity simply because it is legal. I have seen the devastation caused by drug use… nothing good ever comes of it.
Instead, I wholeheartedly endorse the consumption of whiskey.