We first discussed the GRAM Act when it was introduced by Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) a few weeks ago, which would remove the federal prohibition on using marijuana and owning firearms in states that have legalized cannabis; either recreationally or for medical use. Since the bill’s introduction, a couple of Republicans have signed on as co-sponsors, but Democrats are still shying away from the legislation.
That may change, however, now that the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (or NORML), the biggest group in the pro-legalization lobby, is throwing its weight behind bill.
Under current law, those who consume medical or recreational marijuana in legal jurisdictions can face blatant discrimination by having their constitutionally-guaranteed right to purchase and possess a firearm denied entirely, regardless of its completely legal status. This directly impacts the Constitutional rights of Americans in nearly every state.
If passed, the GRAM Act would amend current laws to end this discriminatory action by providing an exception for those who consume marijuana lawfully, allowing them to once again exercise their constitutional right to purchase, possess, and use firearms for personal protection, sport, and hunting.
NORML’s comments on the GRAM Act also includes a link allowing readers to contact their congresscritter directly in support of the legislation, which will hopefully generate some emails to House members on both sides of the aisle.
If you’ve ever bought a gun at a gun shop, you know that one of the questions on the Federal Form 4473 that you must answer is directly related to cannabis use.
Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance? Warning: The use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under Federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medicinal or recreational purposes in the state where you reside.
So, even if you live in a state like Colorado, which has completely legalized recreational marijuana, it’s a violation of federal law for you to purchase a firearm if you also toke up. And while it’s uncommon for federal authorities to pursue criminal charges against individuals who like to puff puff as well as pew pew, it does happen.
A federal judge in Connecticut has weighed in with an interesting decision in a case involving a 31-year old man from East Hartford. James Holmes was suspected by the ATF of illegally selling some 20 firearms over the past few years, but they have no proof. In fact, the only thing that federal officials could nail Holmes on was his marijuana use, which he admitted to ATF agents when they interviewed him back in 2019.
… Federal sentencing guidelines suggested a sentence of 10-16 months in a federal prison, though the U.S. Attorney’s office argued that Holmes should actually receive 18-24 months behind bars, despite having no previous criminal history, never testing positive for drug use, and maintaining a steady and stable work history.
Judge Vanessa L. Bryant, who was appointed to the federal bench by President George W. Bush in 2007, disagreed when it came time to sentence Holmes. Noting that marijuana use “will soon be legal federally and in Connecticut,” the judge deviated from both the federal sentencing guidelines and the prosecutor’s request and instead sentenced Holmes to three years probation.
Now, the simplest solution would be for Congress to simply remove marijuana from the list of prohibited drugs and direct the ATF to change the language on the Form 4473, but that might not be possible given the current makeup of the Senate. Heck, it might not be possible based on the current makeup of the House. Democrats have the votes to legalize pot, but I suspect that a large portion of the caucus would love to make people choose between smoking a joint and owning a gun.
That anti-gun attitude may also doom the GRAM Act to the dustbin of history, even though it’s a reasonable attempt to reconcile the growing number of states that have legalized pot with the constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. In a perfect world, the GRAM Act would be drawing bipartisan support from Second Amendment supporters, pro-legalization politicians, and those congressional unicorns who are both pro-legalization and pro-2A.
Instead, H.R. 2830 currently has just three co-sponsors. Given the tribal nature of our politics and the current dysfunction in D.C., many Republicans may be reluctant to sign on because they see it as pro-pot, while the bill is likely too pro-gun for most Democrats. Despite NORML’s advocacy, what should be a no-brainer bill may end up not even getting a committee hearing this year.