The federal Gun Control Act of 1968 deems cannabis users “prohibited persons” who cannot legally own or possess firearms. In the past, numerous petitioners failed to overturn convictions under this law. That is now changing. In a recent case known as United States v. Harrison, a federal court ruled that cannabis use alone does not disqualify someone from their right to possess firearms. Today, I want to discuss the case and why it is so significant.
For reference, is how the Harrison court summarized the relevant provisions of the Gun Control Act:
The statute initially prohibited any individual who was “an unlawful user of or addicted to marihuana or any depressant or stimulant drug . . . or narcotic drug” from receiving a firearm, but it was amended in 1986 to broadly prohibit the receipt or possession of a firearm by any person who “is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802)).” In its modern form, [the law] thus strips a person of their fundamental right to possess a firearm the instant the person becomes an “unlawful user” of marijuana. And in the United
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