Arkansas seeks to protect gun rights for medical pot users

Jeff Chiu

The issue surrounding medical marijuana and gun ownership is thorny at best.

See, while marijuana is legal to some degree or another all over the nation, it’s still prohibited under federal law. That means those who use it, even under a doctor’s supervision, can’t lawfully have a firearm.


Arkansas, however, is trying to address some of that problem.

Arkansas lawmakers have approved a bill in committee that would clarify that medical marijuana patients can obtain concealed carry licenses for firearms.

The House Judiciary Committee passed the legislation from Rep. Aaron Pilkington (R) in a voice vote on Thursday, sending it to the floor.

The measure states that a person’s status as a qualified medical cannabis patient in the state cannot be used “in determining whether an applicant is eligible to be issued a license to carry a concealed handgun.”

State statute would also be amended to clarify that participation in the medical marijuana program doesn’t mean that a person is a chronic or habitual user of a controlled substance, which could otherwise disqualify people from obtaining the concealed carry permit.

The state Department of Health (DOH) would be barred from disclosing a person’s patient status to the state police as part of any investigation into concealed carry eligibility.

This is far narrower than many other bills trying to address the issue with guns and marijuana, but I also think this is probably the smart play.

Arkansas isn’t trying to supersede federal law, which is ultimately a lost cause due to the Supremacy Clause.

Instead, they’re simply saying that a person’s enrollment in the medical marijuana program should be irrelevant when it comes to issuing a permit and that enrollment doesn’t necessarily mean the person is a user.

That’s an important distinction, to say the least, and one that likely would be upheld by the courts.


Yet it only addresses one part of the equation.

What really needs to happen is for marijuana laws to change at the federal level, at least to enough of a degree that people aren’t jammed up over their prescriptions.

By now, we have a lot of data to show that marijuana users aren’t exactly driving violent crime. While I don’t necessarily condone it for recreational purposes on a personal level, that doesn’t mean it should be illegal or that people who feel differently should be denied their Second Amendment rights.

That’s where we’re at, though, and we never should have gotten here in the first place.

Arkansas is crafting a bill to minimize the impact of this nonsense, but it doesn’t negate the problem in the first place. For that, lawmakers at the federal level need to stop with the petty nonsense they seem to be focused on and get to work ending this prohibition so law-abiding Americans can enjoy their gun rights without needing states like Arkansas to pass measures protecting that right.

It’s beyond ridiculous.

Then again, this is how our nation’s supposed leadership tends to do most things in this day and age.

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