The court system in America is generally seen as problematic, even given all the constitutional safeguards and legal protections designed to keep it in working order. From the bottom to the top, the problematic rulings are numerous. The Supreme Court is often seen as the ultimate arbiter in American society and one that many suggest is there for our rights. But looking at the factual history of the courts, there are plenty of instances where it ruled against the clear letter of the Constitution. Prominent examples include Dred Scott and the right of Africans, as well as Fred Korematsu, a Japanese-American who was forced into an internment camp under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Is it any surprise, at that point, when the lower courts follow their example? This occurred when the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that being denied a firearm due to medical marijuana usage is not a violation of the Constitution.
Defenders of the ruling may immediately suggest it’s a no-brainer since nobody wants an intoxicated person handling a gun. But many medical marijuana users are not your stereotypical potheads, just like most individuals taking prescription drug medications are not drug addicts. These are people who have a medical condition, saw a medical professional, and received medical treatment for their diagnosis.
So when the courts rule that usage of medical marijuana is grounds to deprive gun rights, it is actually saying that constitutional rights can be deprived because an individual is receiving medical care. What if your gun rights were deprived because you took certain pain medication? What if you were deprived of your constitutional protections to be secure in your property from unreasonable searches and seizures because of a valid prescription?
The implications set by this precedent are widespread and dangerous. It reaches far beyond just marijuana and guns.
In this case, the grounds for denying the gun was based on a federal ban on gun sales to illegal drug users. Marijuana, though legal in a number of states for medicinal use, is still federally illegal. The federal government naturally would rule in favor of itself with different legal levels conflicting.
Senior District Judge Jed Rakoff cited the risk of irrational behavior in denying the gun rights of medicinal marijuana users. Studies indicate that behavior is more likely to be irrational when drinking alcohol, yet it is not only legal to drink, it is also legal to own both alcohol and a gun – this double standard highlights yet another flaw in the federal law.
The anti-marijuana lobby may celebrate this as a plus for their cause, but it is an enormous negative mark on the Constitution. If you oppose marijuana, there are ways to do so without setting dangerous legal precedents. This ruling specifically targets individuals with medical conditions, unjustly denying the constitutional rights of those seeking medical treatment. How many people might this prevent from seeking treatment for legitimate medical causes? At the heart of the precedent, this is extremely dangerous for the future.
It is absurd to imply that our Constitutional rights are contingent upon a clean bill of health. Is this what the Founding Fathers had in mind?