How Can Marijuana Possession or Use Affect Weapons Charges?

 Posted on February 28,2023 in Criminal Defense

Hartford Drug Crime LawyerOver the past decade, the use of marijuana has become more and more accepted throughout the United States. Several states, including Connecticut, have made marijuana legal for both recreational use and medical purposes. However, marijuana is still considered to be an illegal controlled substance at the federal level. Because of this, the possession or use of marijuana can affect certain types of criminal cases. For example, federal law states that it is illegal for a person to possess a firearm if they are addicted to drugs or if they are an "unlawful user" of controlled substances. While this has led some marijuana users to face weapons charges, a federal judge recently ruled that this law is unconstitutional.

Law Prohibiting Gun Possession by Marijuana Users Violates Second Amendment

In the case of United States of America v. Jared Michael Harrison, an Oklahoma man was pulled over by a police officer, and during the traffic stop, the officer noticed the smell of marijuana in the vehicle. When the man's vehicle was searched, officers found a loaded handgun and several marijuana products, including joints, THC gummies, and vape cartridges. The man was charged with possession of marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia, and he also was indicted on federal charges for possessing a firearm as an unlawful user of marijuana.

While marijuana has been approved for medical use in Oklahoma, the defendant in this case did not have a medical marijuana card. Because he was in violation of the state's marijuana laws, he was eligible for prosecution under the federal law prohibiting weapon possession by people who have violated drug laws. However, a federal judge dismissed the indictment, and in his ruling, he stated that the law in question is unconstitutional. Specifically, he ruled that the law violated the right to bear arms as defined in the Second Amendment.

This ruling was based on a Supreme Court decision that was issued in 2022. In the case of New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, the Supreme Court found that laws that restrict the ownership and possession of firearms must be consistent with the history and tradition of the United States. The judge in the Harrison case stated that there is no historical tradition of taking away gun ownership rights based solely on criminal conduct, and restrictions on the right to bear arms must be based on actual risks. Therefore, while the government can take steps to prevent people who are considered dangerous from owning firearms, a person's Second Amendment rights cannot be taken away just because they are a marijuana user.

Contact Our Connecticut Weapons Charges Lawyer

As federal and state laws surrounding marijuana change, and filings in federal courts affect people's right to own and possess firearms, determining how these laws may apply in a particular criminal case can often be confusing. At Woolf Law Firm, LLC, we provide effective representation in all types of criminal cases, and we work to ensure that our clients fully understand their rights and their options for defense. If you are facing charges related to drug possession, violations of weapons laws, or other offenses, contact our Hartford criminal defense attorney to get the legal representation you need. Call our office at 860-290-8690 to set up your free consultation today.



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