Man Sues Trump Administration Over Rules Keeping Medical Marijuana Patients From Buying Guns

Handgun with a marijuana leaf background
sangriana / Shutterstock

A medical marijuana patient’s lawyers filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration over laws that prohibit patients who use the herb medicinally from buying guns.

According to a report from The Washington Times, Dr. Matthew Roman and his lawyer, John K. Weston, filed the suit in Philadelphia federal court on Thursday. The lawsuit claims that the U.S. government’s rules violate his second amendment rights. The lawsuit names the heads of the Justice Department, FBI, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Right now the rules prevent tens of thousands of medical marijuana users in the U.S. from legally buying firearms.

So far, in the United States, thirty-three states have some form of legalized marijuana, from medical to recreational, even though the substance remains prohibited federally. The reason medical users of the drug cannot obtain a gun is that federal law bars anybody who unlawfully uses controlled substances under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act.

In April, Dr. Roman, the plaintiff in this suit, attempted to buy a Smith & Wesson 638 revolver for self-defense from Firing Line in South Philadelphia, but he was declined after indicating he uses medical marijuana for post-traumatic stress disorder. Dr. Roman not only uses medicinal cannabis, he prescribes it to his patients in Old City, Pennsylvania, according to The lawsuit states, “Dr. Roman truthfully answered that he did have a medical cannabis card, and the staff member responded that it was not legal under federal law to have a medical cannabis card and purchase a weapon.”

The Drug Enforcement Agency classifies marijuana, heroin, and LSD as Schedule 1 drugs. Because of this designation, people who use cannabis legally in 33 states are now banned from legally owning guns. Others who cannot own guns include convicted felons, domestic abusers, fugitives, and “mental defectives.” However, people who are known drunks and who have been in psychiatric hospitals can purchase and own firearms legally.

In the lawsuit, Weston wrote, that the limits “unconstitutionally prohibit law-abiding citizens who have enrolled in state medical cannabis programs from purchasing a firearm. This strict, rigid, blanket prohibition violated the fundamental constitutional rights of tens of thousands of non-violent, law-abiding citizens, and is thus violates the Second and Fifth Amendments of the Constitution.”

In 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that federal prohibition of cannabis is not a Second Amendment violation, so this new lawsuit aims to challenge that ruling. Medical marijuana has been legal in Pennsylvania since 2016, and a new bill aims to allow the drug to become legal recreationally as well, much like alcohol.