2A Activists Plan Colorado Referendum on Guns and Marijuana

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

While Joe Biden’s Justice Department continues to defend the current federal prohibition on gun ownership for “unlawful” users of drugs (much to the chagrin of Hunter Biden), a Colorado-based Second Amendment group is hoping to revise the state law that bars sheriffs from issuing concealed carry licenses to anyone who partakes of the devil’s lettuce. Representatives from Guns for Everyone met with Colorado’s Legislative Council Staff today to discuss putting a referendum on the ballot in 2024 making it clear that marijuana use, which is legal both recreationally and medicinally in Colorado, isn’t a disqualifying offense when it comes to exercising the right to carry.


Edgar Antillon, co-founder of Guns for Everyone, said he views it as a “freedom issue” given that Colorado legalized recreational use of marijuana more than a decade ago.

“It’s one of those silly things that has been going on for a while. We’ve legalized marijuana, but we don’t give [users] the ability to defend themselves,” Antillon said. “Alcohol users get to defend themselves. Why not marijuana users?”

Under current state law, sheriffs in Colorado cannot issue a permit to carry to a person who is “ineligible” under federal law. Because federal law still lists marijuana as a controlled substance, this prevents Colorado sheriffs from issuing concealed carry permits to anyone who is “an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance.”

The proposed change to the law, as it is currently written in the proposed ballot initiative, would amend Colorado law to include that “a sheriff shall not use a permit applicant’s lawful use of marijuana … as a basis for denying the applicant a permit.”

Guns for Everyone will have its first big step in getting the initiative onto the ballot at its LCS hearing, in which attorneys and staff will ask clarifying questions and determine if the wording of the proposed law change is clear and sound. Even after that step, though, it is not guaranteed. It then has to be accepted and titled by the Secretary of State’s Office, at which point Guns for Everyone organizers will need to collect nearly 125,000 signatures within six months.


If they station signature gatherers outside of both dispensaries and gun shops in the Denver area, it probably won’t take long for them to meet their goal. As Antillon notes, all the group is really trying to do is to treat marijuana use no differently than drinking alcohol.

“People who consume alcohol are able to buy guns and are able to get their permits,” Antollin told Denver 7. “But at the same time, legally, they cannot be under the influence of alcohol while possessing a firearm. And pot users kind of want the same thing.”

Even if the language gets approved for the 2024 elections and is supported by a majority of Colorado voters, the DOJ could still stymie any efforts to level the playing field. Arkansas lawmakers recently changed state statute to allow medical marijuana card holders to obtain a concealed carry license, and the ATF has already taken notice.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is raising concern over Arkansas allowing medical marijuana users to receive concealed handgun carry licenses (CHCL).

The letter, addressed to Arkansas Department of Public Safety Operations Director Rick Stallings, claims that the CHCL is recognized as an alternative to completing a background check, which may inadvertently allow medical marijuana users the ability to carry a handgun.

The ATF is threatening to disallow the use of a CHCL as an alternative to completing a NICS check, warning Stallings and other state officials of the agency’s concern “that the issuance of CHCLs to individuals who are prohibited by Federal law from possession of firearms creates an unacceptable risk of placing firearms in the hands of prohibited persons.”


In particular, Arkansas state law may provide federally prohibited medical marijuana users the ability to obtain a CHCL issued by the Director of the Division of Arkansas State Police. The CHCL can then be used to acquire a firearm from a Federal Firearms licensee (“FFL”) despite the federal prohibition and without an additional background check being conducted at the point of sale.

… If Arkansas law does not require authorized State officials to confirm that an individual is not a “controlled substance user,” then federally prohibited marijuana users may obtain firearms using the CHCL. If ATF does not receive a response to the above issues, ATF will reevaluate the Arkansas CHCL as an alternative permit. As a result of that process, ATF may determine an Arkansas CHCL no longer qualifies as an alternate to the NICS check requirement.

Unlike Arkansas, Colorado’s concealed handgun license can’t be used in place of a NICS check for firearm purchases, but that doesn’t mean that DOJ couldn’t come up with another way to target gun owners who want to imbibe or marijuana users who want to access their Second Amendment rights. Merrick Garland has made it clear that he views any drug use, even in states where marijuana is legal, as putting the user beyond the reach of their right to keep and bear arms.

The ballot referendum proposed by Guns for Everyone is a step in the right direction, but ultimately this problem is going to have to be solved in D.C. and not at the state or local level. The Gun Rights and Marijuana (or GRAM) Act, which would allow people in states where marijuana is legal to purchase and possess a firearm, is probably the simplest way to address the issue, but eight months after the bill was re-introduced by Rep. Brian Mast the legislation is still languishing in the House with just two other co-sponsors. I understand why groups like Guns for Everyone are turning to more creative endeavors in the interim. I’m just not sure it’s going to give Coloradans the relief, and the rights, that they’re looking to secure.


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