Medical Marijuana and Patient’s Gun Rights: A Florida Dilemma?


In a television interview this week Florida House of Representatives member  Cord Byrd explained Florida medical marijuana users will be in violation of federal firearms law.

Speaking to Channel 9 via Facetime, Byrd explained that possessing medical marijuana while having or buying a gun can carry a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.

“I won’t say it will happen, but I will advise someone who calls me that it certainly is a possibility,” he said. The prohibition is clearly explained on forms required when a person is purchasing a firearm, Byrd said.

Federal law prohibits any “unlawful user” of a controlled substance to purchase a firearm, and it doesn’t matter if Florida has legalized medical marijuana, he said.

Nowhere in the state ratification debates was the medical needs of the people weighed against their right to keep and bear arms.

This apparent dilemma provides a “teachable moment” for voters and legislators.

Madison wrote in the Virginia Resolutions, the clear duty of the legislature against federal usurpations: “That this Assembly doth explicitly and peremptorily declare, that it views the powers of the federal government, as resulting from the compact, to which the states are parties; as limited by the plain sense and intention of the instrument constituting the compact; as no further valid that they are authorized by the grants enumerated in that compact; and that in case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of other powers, not granted by the said compact, the states who are parties thereto, have the right, and are in duty bound, to interpose for arresting the progress of the evil, and for maintaining within their respective limits, the authorities, rights and liberties appertaining to them.

There is no authority in the Constitution for the federal government to legislate the possession or use of any plant. There is also no authority for the federal government to infringe upon the right to keep and bear arms. It is expressly forbidden by the Second Amendment, the second article in the first eight prohibitions written against the federal government, and the federal government only.

In 2016, the people of Florida overwhelmingly rejected the federal prohibition on medical marijuana. They did this by ballot initiative since the legislature lacked the fortitude to do this by legislation. We the people of Florida, in effect, nullified the federal prohibition, as is our right. To protect our decision, it is the responsibility of our state legislature to interpose on our behalf; to arrest the progress of the evil-the evil being any federal action to deny a medical marijuana patient in Florida their right to keep and bear arms.

To rectify the very real danger expressed by the honorable Mr. Byrd, the legislature needs to take the appropriate steps.

First, deny all federal agencies access to the list of medical marijuana patients in Florida. This confidentiality must be maintained no matter what financial threats the federals may make to obtain these names.

Next, the legislature must enact measures which prohibit any Florida law enforcement officer, any state agent, any court or state employee from assisting federal officers with the arrest and prosecution of any Florida medical marijuana patient. This includes any intelligence gathering, warrants, and use of jails for confinement. Any Florida LEO, state agent, judge or state employee who would violate this law would be subject to penalties from suspension without pay to termination.

There is nothing illegal about such noncooperation. Sure, sheriffs and police chiefs will lobby hard against it, but liberty and not the legislature’s love affair with uniformed services and fear of their lobbyists must carry the day.

The Second Amendment prohibits the federals from infringing on the right to keep and bear arms. The Constitution does not authorize the federals to legislate the use or possession of plants or drugs. This is a state power never ceded to the central government.

The legislation of firearms in Florida is contained in our state constitution in our Declaration of Rights, Article One, Section 8. Rightly or wrongly, we have placed all firearms legislation, including the manner and places of bearing arms in the hands of the state legislature.

Unless the state legislature is willing to tell 71% of the voters they plan on denying medical marijuana patients their right to keep and bear arms, they should not waste too much time in moving to protect those rights from the federals.

We didn’t vote away our right to keep and bear arms when we rejected federal prohibition. Rep. Byrd is correct; it isn’t fair to force people to navigate the complex divide between federal and state law.

So our message to Rep. Byrd and his House colleagues is this: Simplify the complex and don’t force Florida’s medical marijuana patients to navigate this divide. Interpose now with the proper legislation. Protect the liberty of Floridians who are both gun owners and medical marijuana patients now or will become both in the future.

The day is fast approaching where sides must be taken, lines must be drawn, liberty supported or supplanted.  Where stands our state legislature?