The first state in the U.S. to legalize the sale of marijuana for recreational purposes was Colorado. Now, Colorado may consider passing a law that allows pot smokers to carry concealed weapons.
The “Colorado Campaign for Equal Gun Rights” wants to put a question on the November 2016 ballot to change state law to prevent sheriffs from denying concealed carry permits because of marijuana use.
Edgar Antillon, one of the campaign organizers, justifies this action by arguing that it’s just ridiculous that firearms aren’t kept from alcohol drinkers. He and his campaign partner, Isaac Chase, run a firearm business called Guns For Everyone, and are seeking the support of gun rights groups for this change.
Of course, this campaign will put Colorado again in direct conflict with federal guidelines about the drug; in 2011, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives sent states a directive to keep guns away from marijuana users.
The Daily Mail reports that gun enthusiasts are divided on the subject. The president of the Colorado State Shooting Association said his members would oppose letting pot users carry guns.
“Federal law prohibits the possession and use of marijuana and its derivatives, and therefore its possession and use is incompatible with legal, responsible firearms ownership,” according to Tony Fabian.
The County Sheriffs of Colorado are also opposed to the idea. However, the unanswered question is whether marijuana-using gun owners are more dangerous than others.
To obtain a license to carry a concealed weapon people are asked, under oath, 14 questions on Colorado’s concealed carry application, including whether the person has a restraining order, has been convicted of a felony, or has been treated for alcoholism within the past 10 years.
In addition, they have to state if they are “an unlawful user of marijuana or any other controlled substance.”
In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in an Oregon case that medical marijuana cardholders could obtain concealed handgun licenses.
However, despite that, Antillon said several students have told him they’ve been denied a permit because they use marijuana. He said it’s unjust that marijuana users are being “punished and can’t defend their lives.”
He added that marijuana users can also be responsible firearm owners.
“It’s going to be that initial battle of educating people. The challenge is people thinking that we’re allowing people who are high to possess handguns,” he said.
At the base of the argument is the ongoing distinction the law makes between the effects of alcohol compared to the effects of marijuana.
Why shouldn’t pot smokers be allowed the same rights as alcohol consumers? That’s the question Colorado voters will have to consider.