The Second Amendment Shouldn’t Go Up In Smoke
by Rep. Nick Schroer | Missouri House of Representatives
“Give me liberty, or give me death,” was first uttered by our founding father Patrick Henry. The statement, at the time, related to the American colonies pulling themselves from the tyrannical control of England. However, these exact words provide guidance for many Americans that are forced to give up their 2nd Amendment rights for physical or mental relief.
Despite the fact that a majority of our so-called “sovereign” states in this great nation have legalized the medicinal use or marijuana, the possession of this substance remains illegal on a federal basis. Marijuana is still a Schedule-I drug, defined as having “no medical use.” But many skeptics continue to wonder why marijuana sits atop the Schedule-I controlled substances when the majority of the states within the U.S. have legalized it on a medicinal level, thus, proving it should be reclassified given its apparent medical use.
However, reclassification would be the sensible move for our federal government; a move that does not look like it will be made any time soon. While the majority of our states are legalizing medicinal marijuana, federal officials are exerting selective enforcement of their laws which still classify possession of marijuana as a federal offense. As many federal prosecutors and bureaucrats refuse to enforce the criminal prosecution for those merely possessing or using medical marijuana, they are intent on stripping legal medical marijuana users of their 2nd Amendment rights pursuant to a 2011 letter by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
In said letter, our friendly federal DOJ indicated that even though many states have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, it still remains illegal on a federal level, which prevents users of marijuana in those states from owning, purchasing, or transferring firearms or ammunition. Users in states where marijuana is legal should, per this DOJ 2011 position, answer “yes” on the ATF Form 4473 in responding to the question of using or being addicted to illegal drugs. Strictly abiding by such guidance will result in your 2nd Amendment rights going up in smoke.In the early months of 2018, it was apparent to myself and others in Missouri that one of three ballot initiatives related to legalization of medicinal marijuana would likely pass and become law the following year. As the months grew closer to the November election day, the aforementioned issue Missourians would face became abundantly clear: vote to legalize medicinal marijuana and risk giving up your constitutional rights.
I began pulling data from the onslaught of states that have enacted similar measures. I spent hours in meetings with 2nd Amendment scholars, as well as marijuana experts, discussing how to fix this issue. All of the individual states that legalized marijuana refused or neglected to preserve their citizens’ existing constitutional rights while solidifying a new one in statute.
Was it a fear of our federal government that prevented these states from protecting the rights of their citizenry or pure ignorance?
As a result of this research, I realized more than ever, especially as a young legislator, that states must take action to prevent usurpation of power by the federal bureaucrats.
Across the nation, individuals are prescribed medications with warnings attached thereto indicating they should not operate machinery while using said drug; there are those addicted to alcohol; those who have drug related criminal records; or those who have been admitted to drug rehabilitation facilities, all who are legally allowed to own, purchase, or transfer firearms or ammunition. Legal use of medicinal marijuana should be no different. In Missouri, our laws still provide that one can be held criminally liable when using their firearm while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Our state has legal protections that allow citizens to keep their 2nd Amendment rights intact so long as they are not being criminally negligent if prescribed legal medications.
In evaluating how to address this issue, the solution was found not too far from home. I mimicked legislation Missouri passed several years ago, which prevented state bureaucrats and officials from turning over conceal-carry permit holder information to the other officials. This idea of merely not “reinventing the wheel” came from a discussion with a mid-Missouri small business owner and federal firearms dealer. Figuring out that this same idea could be applied by preventing medical marijuana card holder or applicant information from being turned over or disclosed to the federal government, it was time to turn this thought into legislation.
Filed as the second piece of legislation for the historic 100th General Assembly, I was successful in placing House Bill 238 as an amendment onto two bills that now sit in the Missouri Senate, simply waiting to be taken up and passed. As we debated House Bill 238 on the House floor, Republicans and Democrats both spoke in support of this idea at asserting Missouri’s 10th Amendment rights by preventing private information of medical marijuana users from being accessed by the federal government. Those serving alongside me realized that this legislation is the only way, aside from the federal government actually doing the work of we the people and reclassifying marijuana, which our Missouri citizens would be able to obtain the relief they need by way of medical marijuana and keep their 2nd Amendment rights intact.