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Maryland Senate Committee Approves Bill To Protect Medical Marijuana Patients’ Gun Rights Under State Law



A Maryland Senate committee has approved a bill that’s meant to protect gun rights for medical marijuana patients under state law.

About one week after the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee first took up the legislation—as well as a separate proposal to let police search vehicles based on the smell of cannabis—members unanimously passed the firearms bill on Wednesday.

There was no discussion, except that the chair briefly pointed out that “we’ve passed the bill like probably five times” over recent sessions, though the reform has not yet been enacted into law.

Sen. Mike McKay (R) is sponsoring the current legislation, which would protect the rights of registered medical cannabis patients to buy, own and carry firearms under Maryland law, even though they are still restricted from doing so under federal statute.

The Maryland legislature also took up the issue around this time last year, with the House Judiciary Committee holding a hearing on a separate but related measure to ensure medical marijuana patients’ gun rights are protected.

The issue has been raised in multiple state legislatures and federal courts in recent years, as marijuana and gun rights advocates challenge the constitutionality of the federal ban that currently prevents cannabis consumers from owning firearms.


Last month in neighboring Pennsylvania, for example, a district attorney filed suit against the Justice Department over the ban that he says violates the Second Amendment rights of medical cannabis patients such as himself.

A Republican senator in Pennsylvania also recently said that he will soon introduce legislation that would remove barriers under state law to medical marijuana patients carrying firearms.

The governor of South Dakota signed a bill into law that will require patients to check off a box on medical marijuana card applications affirming that they’re aware that federal law prohibits cannabis consumers from buying and possessing guns.

The federal Justice Department has insisted on the necessity of the banning cannabis consumers for possessing guns in numerous federal courts, arguing at points that people who use marijuana pose a unique danger, akin to permitting people with serious mental illness to own firearms.

The question over the constitutionality of the federal gun ban for people who use marijuana is now before the U.S. Supreme Court, which is considering taking up the issue.

Justices are expected to decide whether they will hear a federal government appeal of a circuit court ruling that found the firearm restriction violates the Second Amendment.

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The ruling 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.

While people who use cannabis are barred from owning firearms under the statute, a little-notice FBI memo from 2019 that recently surfaced shows that the federal government generally does not consider it a violation of the law for medical cannabis caregivers and growers to have guns.

Republican congressional lawmakers have filed two bills in the first half of this current two-year session that focus on gun and marijuana policy.

Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL), co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, filed legislation last year to protect the Second Amendment rights of people who use marijuana in legal states, allowing them to purchase and possess firearms that they’re currently prohibited from having under federal law.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has committed to attaching that legislation to a bipartisan marijuana banking bill that advanced out of committee in September.

Meanwhile, Mast is also cosponsoring a separate bill from Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV) this session that would more narrowly allow medical cannabis patients to purchase and possess firearms.

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