Nikki Fried is the only Democrat to hold statewide office in Florida, and as Agriculture Commissioner she’s also the one in charge of the state’s concealed carry licensing system. Fried is also running for the Democratic nomination for governor, and she’s clearly hoping to give her campaign a bit of a boost by suing the Biden administration over the current rules barring any and all users of marijuana from legally purchasing a gun at retail.
According to NBC News, Fried’s new lawsuit will drop today (not coincidentally, on 4/20), and will deal specifically with medical marijuana users and their Second Amendment rights.
The lawsuit targets a federal form that asks whether the gun buyer is an unlawful user of drugs and specifies that marijuana is illegal under federal law. A person allowed by the state to use marijuana must then check “yes,” which results in denial of the purchase. Lying by checking “no” runs the risk of a five-year prison sentence for making a false statement.
Fried, whose office oversees concealed weapons permits and regulates some aspects of medical marijuana, argues in her lawsuit that the form violates the Second Amendment rights of lawful medical marijuana patients and runs afoul of a congressional budget prohibition on federal agents’ interfering with state-sanctioned cannabis laws.
The suit has ramifications beyond Florida: At least 37 states have legalized medical marijuana, and recreational use is legal in 18 states, as well as Guam and Washington, D.C.
This could end up being a fairly significant lawsuit, but I have to question Fried’s timing, which makes this suit a bit of a political stunt as well. Forget the fact that she’s bringing the case against the Biden administration on 4/20. Fried’s been Ag Commissioner since 2018, so why is she just now objecting to the federal laws? Why didn’t she bring this case forward in her first year in office, instead of dropping it just a couple of months before the Democratic primary in Florida? Medical marijuana has been legal in some form or fashion since 2014, so she could have sued at any time, yet she chose to wait until now. Why?
The obvious reason is that she’s hoping to get some positive press for her gubernatorial campaign, but I’m also skeptical that this will really benefit Fried politically. The issue of cannabis use and gun owners is one that neither Republicans nor Democrats seem particularly eager to deal with; Republicans because of their traditional stance in opposition to legalizing marijuana and Democrats because of their hostility towards the Second Amendment.
I can’t imagine that many gun owners in Florida would be swayed to vote for Fried over Ron DeSantis simply because of this lawsuit, so my guess is that Fried is hoping to ingratiate herself among pro-pot Democratic voters in an attempt to gain ground against longtime Florida politician Charlie Crist, who’s currently favored to win the Democratic nomination.
I’d be shocked if that strategy worked, though I’d be pleasantly surprised if there truly is a significant voting bloc of Democrats who are both pro-cannabis and pro-Second Amendment. And politically motivated or not, I’m rooting for Fried’s lawsuit to succeed. As the husband of a Stage IV lung cancer patient, I think it’s utterly ridiculous that my wife could be prescribed opioids for pain relief without losing her right to keep and bear arms while a doctor’s prescription for pot to help her with side effects of her treatment like nausea and lack of appetite makes her ineligible to exercise her Second Amendment rights. Something’s gotta give here, and if Fried’s lawsuit results this ridiculous restriction being overturned, I’ll be glad to see it… though I don’t think that alone would be enough to get me to vote for her if I lived in Florida.