Nikki Fried, Florida’s agriculture and consumer services commissioner, filed a Second Amendment lawsuit against the federal government Wednesday that seeks to allow the state’s medical marijuana cardholders to purchase and possess firearms.
Fried announced the litigation at the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference in Miami Beach on the 4/20 cannabis holiday.
The lawsuit targets what Fried said is a conflict between state and federal law, with medical marijuana being legal in Florida and 37 other states and no evidence suggesting medical marijuana use makes people more dangerous or violent.
Federal policy forces cardholders to choose between their state constitutional right to medicinal cannabis and federal Second Amendment rights, Fried said at a press conference.
“No patient should have to choose between medicine and employment, a roof over their head, access to capital or their Constitutional rights.”
The Logic Behind The Lawsuit: Fried, a Democrat, is suing the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The country’s cannabis policies are “irrational, inconsistent and incoherent,” she said.
“To be clear, I am in no way challenging the federal government’s right to enact reasonable gun regulations that protect the public.”
Fried, who is both a medical marijuana cardholder and firearm owner, said medical marijuana cardholders face the threat of a felony charge for lying on a federal form if they do not disclose marijuana use on a federal firearm permit application.
If the state versus federal conflict were solved, it would result in fewer private firearm sales and more sales with background checks, she said.
The Floridians Joining The Litigation: Plaintiff Vera Cooper of Milton, Florida, a medical marijuana cardholder, seeks to purchase a firearm for personal protection at her family’s small business, Cooper Plumbing.
Nicole Hansell of Miami, a single mother of three who uses medical marijuana to treat PTSD and severe anxiety after a deployment to Afghanistan in the U.S. Army Reserves, is seeking a firearm for the personal protection of her business and family.
Neill Franklin of Naples is retired from the Maryland State Police and maintains a national concealed carry permit as a retired law enforcement officer, Fried said.
While Franklin qualifies for the Florida medical marijuana program, he is concerned that lawful cannabis use would disqualify him from maintaining his concealed carry permit and buying firearms in the future, the Florida official said.
“This is one question I am asked daily across our entire state,” Fried said. “It is an issue that transcends partisan politics and an issue that transcends just marijuana patients.”
Nikki Fried, Florida's agriculture and consumer services commissioner, announces a lawsuit Wednesday against the federal government over the Second Amendment rights of medical marijuana cardholders. Photo by Dez Smith.
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