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GOP Congressman Says ‘Millions Of Marijuana Users’ Own Guns And Shouldn’t Face Prosecution Like Hunter Biden Did



Two Republican congressmen are challenging the basis of the conviction of President Joe Biden’s son Hunter for purchasing a gun while being a consumer of illegal drugs, with one pointing out that there are “millions of marijuana users” who own guns but should not be prosecuted.

After a federal jury found Hunter Biden guilty of three felony charges related to his purchase of a firearm while being a user of crack cocaine on Tuesday, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) said he “might deserve to be in jail for something, but purchasing a gun is not it.”

“There are millions of marijuana users who own guns in this country, and none of them should be in jail for purchasing or possessing a firearm against current laws,” the congressman said.

This past December, attorneys for Hunter Biden called on a federal court to dismiss the case against their client based on a similar principle, arguing that prosecutors are applying an unconstitutional statute that would criminalize millions of marijuana consumers acting in compliance with state law if broadly enforced.

The federal statute banning people who use cannabis from buying or possessing firearms has been challenged in multiple federal courts over recent years, with one case pending a review in the U.S. Supreme Court.

In this case, with Hunter Biden, the substance at issue wasn’t marijuana, but Massie was also more broadly criticizing the question on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) form that deprives people of their Second Amendment right if they admit to being an unlawful user of a controlled substance.

Massie has long advocated for gun rights for cannabis consumers, and he’s consistently criticized his party for failing to act on marijuana reform. He also sponsored the first piece of marijuana reform legislation for the 118th Congress last year, proposing to allow medical cannabis patients to purchase and possess firearms.

Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) also brought up Massie’s post about Hunter Biden during a House Rules Committee hearing on Tuesday, quoting from it directly as an example of at least one Republican who’s spoken out about the Second Rights implications of the conviction.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) also questioned the merits of the conviction against the president’s son. While the congressman is an advocate for marijuana reform, however, he didn’t explicitly draw that connection.

“The Hunter Biden gun conviction is kinda dumb tbh,” he simply said.

Meanwhile, the pending Supreme Court case over the cannabis and firearm ban came from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which examined the federal statute known as Section 922(g)(3) that prevents someone who is an “unlawful user” of an illegal drug from buying or possessing firearms. The circuit court found the policy unconstitutional as applied to a man who faced a conviction after admitting to having used cannabis while in possession of a gun.

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Some states have passed their own laws either further restricting or attempting to preserve gun rights as they relate to marijuana. Recently, for example, a Pennsylvania lawmaker introduced a bill meant to remove state barriers to medical marijuana patients carrying firearms.

Colorado organizers are also working to qualify a prospective state ballot measure that would remove a barrier around the issuance of concealed handgun permits, specifying that whether someone is an “unlawful user of or addicted to marijuana” should be determined “only as provided in state law and regulations.”

Last year, for example, the Justice Department told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit that historical precedent “comfortably” supports the restriction. Cannabis consumers with guns pose a unique danger to society, the Biden administration claimed, in part because they’re “unlikely” to store their weapon properly.

The federal government has repeatedly claimed that those analogues provide clear support for limiting gun rights for cannabis users. But several federal courts have separately deemed the marijuana-related ban unconstitutional, leading DOJ to appeal in several ongoing cases.

The Justice Department asserted similar points during oral arguments in a separate but related case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in October. That case focuses on the Second Amendment rights of medical cannabis patients in Florida.

Attorneys in both cases have also touched on a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruling from August, Daniels v. United States, that found the ban preventing people who use marijuana from possessing firearms is unconstitutional, even if they consume cannabis for non-medical reasons.

DOJ had already advised the Eleventh Circuit court that it felt the ruling was “incorrectly decided,” and the department’s attorney reiterated that it’s the government’s belief that “there are some reasons to be uncertain about the foundations” of the appeals court decision.

The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma also ruled in February that the ban prohibiting people who use marijuana from possessing firearms is unconstitutional, with the judge stating that the federal government’s justification for upholding the law is “concerning.”

In U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, a judge ruled in April that banning people who use marijuana from possessing firearms is unconstitutional—and it said the same legal principle also applies to the sale and transfer of guns.

In August, meanwhile, ATF sent a letter to Arkansas officials saying that the state’s recently enacted law permitting medical cannabis patients to obtain concealed carry gun licenses “creates an unacceptable risk,” and could jeopardize the state’s federally approved alternative firearm licensing policy.

Shortly after Minnesota’s governor signed a legalization bill into law in May, the agency issued a reminder emphasizing that people who use cannabis are barred from possessing and purchases guns and ammunition “until” federal prohibition ends.

In 2020, ATF issued an advisory specifically targeting Michigan that requires gun sellers to conduct federal background checks on all unlicensed gun buyers because it said the state’s cannabis laws had enabled “habitual marijuana users” and other disqualified individuals to obtain firearms illegally.

The Hawaii attorney general’s office released new data recently showing that, of the roughly 500 firearm permit applications denied by officials in the state last year, more than 40 percent were rejected because of applicants’ status as medical marijuana patients.

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