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Sunday, June 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Pot Card Holder Sues Over Gun Rights

LAS VEGAS (CN) - The U.S. government unconstitutionally prohibits people who hold state-issued medical marijuana cards from buying guns, says a medical technician who was not allowed to buy a gun for self-defense.

S. Rowan Wilson sued the U.S. attorney general and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Federal Court, challenging Section 922(g)(3) of the federal criminal code, which "prohibits law-abiding adults who have obtained medical marijuana cards pursuant to state law from lawfully purchasing what the Supreme Court has called 'the quintessential self-defense weapon' and 'the most popular weapon chosen by Americans for self-defense in the home,'" (citing District of Columbia v Heller, 554 U.S. 570, 128 S. Ct. at 2818.)

Wilson, a medical tech and professional caregiver who holds a master's degree and wants to go to med school to become an osteopath, obtained a medical marijuana card so she could use the drug to treat severe menstrual cramps.

She tried to buy a Smith & Wesson .357 magnum this month in Moundhouse, Nev., but the dealer told her he "was prohibited from selling her the firearm, any other firearm, or even any ammunition" because she had a medical marijuana card.

The dealer had received a notice from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which "specifically forbade the sale of any firearms or ammunition to any person possessing a state-issued medical marijuana registry card," according to the complaint.

"This blanket ban violates the constitutional rights of thousands of responsible, law-abiding American citizens," Wilson says. "Defendants have prohibited a certain class of law-abiding, responsible citizens from exercising their right to keep and bear arms," and have enacted policies with the "specific intent of denying the 2nd Amendment rights of persons who have registered to use medical marijuana pursuant to and in accordance with state law.

"Defendants have deliberately banned such persons from purchasing handguns, or firearms of any kind, from federally licensed firearms dealers."

Wilson says her severe menstrual pain "is often debilitating," and leads to "further painful side effects, such as severe nausea and cachexi," or wasting syndrome.

She says she obtained her medical marijuana card after she "met with dozens of patients that have communicated to her their positive experiences with medical cannabis."

"Most of the individuals Ms. Wilson has encountered certainly do not fit the commonly portrayed, narrow-minded stereotype of a marijuana user," the complaint states.

The gun dealer who refused to sell her the pistol cited a Sept. 21 letter from the BATF to all federally licensed gun dealers, which "specifically instructed [them] to deny the sale of firearms or ammunition to any person whom the licensee is aware possesses a card authorizing such persons to possess and use marijuana under state law," the complaint states.

Wilson says a questionnaire she filled out when trying to buy the gun asked, "Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana, or any depressant, stimulant, or narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?" She says she left that question blank, but the gun dealer told her that "he could not sell her a firearm without jeopardizing his federal firearms license, since he had actual knowledge that Ms. Wilson possesses a state-issued medical marijuana registry card."

Wilson says U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and the directors of the BATF are violating her rights under the 2nd and 5th Amendments.

She wants the pertinent regulations declared unconstitutional, including 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(3), 922 (d)(3) and 27 C.F.R. § 478.11. She also seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

She is represented by Charles C. Rainey with Rainey Devine, of Henderson.

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