KANSAS CITY — In the most recent weapons regulatory challenge since the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority set new standards for examining the nation’s gun laws, a federal judge in Oklahoma has declared that a federal law preventing persons who use cannabis from owning firearms is unconstitutional.
Jared Michael Harrison’s attorneys had contended that a federal regulation that forbids “illegal users or addicts of controlled substances” from possessing firearms violated their client’s Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
After being detained by law enforcement in Lawton, Oklahoma, in May 2022 as a result of a traffic stop, Harrison was charged. Police discovered drugs and a loaded pistol while searching his car. Harrison admitted to the police that he had been going to a medical marijuana dispensary to work but lacked a state-issued medicinal marijuana card.
In a position similar to what the U.S. Supreme Court held last year in the case known as New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, his attorneys had argued that the portion of federal firearms law focused on drug users or addicts was not consistent with the historical tradition of the nation’s gun regulation. That case created new guidelines for interpreting the Second Amendment.
Federal prosecutors had argued that the portion of the law focused on drug users is “consistent with a longstanding historical tradition in America of disarming presumptively risky persons, namely, felons, the mentally ill, and the intoxicated.”
U.S. District Judge Patrick Wyrick in Oklahoma City agreed with Harrison’s lawyers, ruling on Friday that federal prosecutors’ arguments that Harrison’s status as a marijuana user “justifies stripping him of his fundamental right to possess a firearm … is not a constitutionally permissible means of disarming Harrison.”
“But the mere use of marijuana carries none of the characteristics that the Nation’s history and tradition of firearms regulation supports,” said Wyrick, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump. In his ruling, Wyrick highlighted that under Oklahoma law, marijuana could be bought legally at more than 2,000 storefronts in the state.
Inquiries for comment sent on Sunday went unanswered by the legal representatives for Harrison and the Western District of Oklahoma’s U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The decision was made just one day after a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans declared that the government could not prohibit those with domestic violence restraining orders from owning firearms. In making its determination, the panel cited the Bruen judgment. Trump has appointed two of the panel’s three judges.
The Justice Department has said it will ask for a second opinion on the appeals court’s ruling.