The Denver Post
Medical marijuana may seem prevalent in Colorado, but its precarious place in the eyes of the federal government is evident in two unfortunate recent developments.
Last month, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives sent a letter to gun sellers saying it is illegal for medical marijuana patients to own firearms. And last week, the lone bank in the state that openly worked with the industry closed an estimated 300 marijuana-related accounts for fear that the companies are breaking federal law.
The episodes are concerning given that, like it or not, medical marijuana is recognized in numerous states, including Colorado, where it was legalized following the passage of Amendment 20 in 2000.
The assault on constitutional rights by the ATF is especially troubling.
As The Post's John Ingold reported, the agency's position was laid out in a September letter to gun dealers from Assistant Director Arthur Herbert: "Any person who uses or is addicted to marijuana, regardless of whether his or her State has passed legislation authorizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes, is prohibited by Federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition."
So users of medical marijuana are faced with two choices: pass on gun ownership or illegally lie about their use of marijuana.
Unbelievable. Equally unconscionable is the silence on the issue from gun-rights groups.
Granted, there is evidence of people who game the medical marijuana system as a form of de facto legalization, but many users are following their doctors' advice. And all medical pot users are doing so under laws established in 16 states (and the District of Columbia) where it is legal. To strip them of their right to bear arms based on a health-care choice strikes us as an onerous and dangerous overstep.
Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?
Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.
If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.
Wednesday, October 05, 2011
The Denver Post