Court Strikes Down Federal Law Barring Pot Heads From Owning Guns

Biden admin still fought overturn despite support for decriminalization, arguing marijuana users are 'no different' than other felons

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February 6, 2023

A U.S. District judge in Oklahoma ruled that a federal law restricting marijuana users from possessing firearms is unconstitutional, marking the latest court decision to expand Second Amendment rights.

Trump-appointed judge Patrick Wyrick ruled last week that federal law violated the Second Amendment rights of Jared Michael Harrison, who was arrested in May 2022 for possession of marijuana. He was later charged with violation of federal law "that makes it illegal for ‘unlawful users or addicts of controlled substances’ to possess firearms," according to Fox News. In his decision, however, Wyrick wrote that "Harrison’s mere status as a user of marijuana" did not "justif[y] stripping him of his fundamental right to possess a firearm."

Wyrick’s ruling, which dismisses the indictment against Harrison, cited the recent Supreme Court case New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruens, which set a precedent that "special need" requirements as a precondition for purchasing a firearm are unconstitutional. New York had required citizens to demonstrate a particular need for self-defense to purchase a firearm, but the Supreme Court held that New York state’s "licensing regime violates the Constitution."

The Biden administration, meanwhile, argued that with regard to the Second Amendment, marijuana users are "no different" from felons "because they are similarly 'unvirtuous.'"

The administration's argument comes in sharp contrast with President Joe Biden's October 2022 statement on marijuana reform, in which the president announced he will pardon federal offenses for "simple possession" of marijuana.

"Sending people to prison for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives and incarcerated people for conduct that many states no longer prohibit," Biden said in the statement. "Criminal records for marijuana possession have also imposed needless barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities."

Harrison’s attorney, Laura Deskin, applauded Judge Wyrick’s decision to uphold the defendant’s Second Amendment rights.

"This decision is a step in the right direction for a large number of marijuana-using Americans who deserve the right to bear arms and protect their homes just like any other American," Deskin said.