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Florida sues the feds over gun restrictions for medical marijuana users

Peter Kim

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried on Wednesday filed a lawsuit challenging federal restrictions that can prevent people from buying and possessing guns if they obtain medical marijuana in Florida.

Fried and three other plaintiffs filed the lawsuit in federal court in Tallahassee, alleging that the restrictions violate Second Amendment rights and should be blocked. The case said a federal law and regulations by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives “forbid Floridians from possessing or purchasing a firearm on the sole basis that they are state-law-abiding medical marijuana patients.”

Florida voters in 2016 passed a constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana in the state. But the lawsuit said federal law makes it illegal to sell firearms to people who use controlled substances, including marijuana. As a result, the lawsuit said, people seeking to buy guns must fill out a form and “any self-identifying ‘unlawful user’ of medical marijuana must be denied” approval.

“The challenged sections (of law) and challenged regulations punish Florida state-law-abiding medical marijuana patients by depriving them of their Second Amendment rights,” the lawsuit said. “They also serve to preclude potential qualified patients … from participating in the state medical marijuana program because the use of such state-permitted medication would cost them their Second Amendment rights.”

Fried, a Democratic candidate for governor, has long been an outspoken supporter of medical marijuana. But with her office in charge of concealed-weapons licenses, she has sometimes clashed with gun-rights supporters.