Medical marijuana, gun advocates team up

Oct. 3, 2011 at 4:36 PM
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DENVER, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- Colorado medical-marijuana backers and gun-rights activists have teamed up to fight a U.S. rule prohibiting medical-marijuana patients from owning firearms.

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives -- which prohibits anyone using marijuana or a depressant, stimulant, narcotic or controlled substance from owning a gun -- said in Sept. 21 letter the rule includes medical-marijuana users.

"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," Assistant Director Arthur Herbert's letter to all gun sellers says.

Gun sellers can also face punishment if found to have knowingly sold to medical-marijuana patients, the letter says.

Sensible Colorado Executive Director Brian Vicente, one of the state's most prominent medical-marijuana proponents, told The Denver Post the policy law is "a travesty" from a patients' rights perspective.

"People shouldn't be denied their constitutional rights based on their choice of medicine," he said.

The U.S. Justice Department this year warned medical-marijuana dispensaries they could face federal prosecution.

Colorado State Shooting Association President Tony Fabian, one of the state's foremost gun-rights activists, said he thought the ATF letter reflected the Obama administration's antagonism toward people owning guns -- no matter who they are.

"There is a hostility by both the ATF and the Obama administration toward the owners of guns," Fabian told the newspaper.

The Obama administration does not consider it worth federal agents' time to enforce federal marijuana laws on individual medical-marijuana patients, he said. So why has it decided to crack down specifically on gun ownership among law-abiding medical-marijuana patients?

The administration had no immediate comment.

The National Rifle Association, the major U.S. gun-rights political advocate, also had no immediate comment.

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