America’s servicemen are being denied their right to self-defense simply if they use medical marijuana.
The Dallas Morning News recounted the disturbing case of Joshua Raines, a veteran and Purple Heart recipient who has been battling epilepsy and PTSD during the last few years.
After serving in the military for five years, Raines started to develop debilitating conditions. In order to treat them, Raines used marijuana. However, he did so illegally.
Technically, under the Compassionate Use Program, Raines would have been eligible for a legal prescription of medical marijuana starting in 2015. That year, Texas lawmakers enacted the program to allow patients with uncontrolled epilepsy to use medical marijuana. Interestingly enough, the veteran has not sought a prescription due to the fact that doing so would have him stripped of his right to bear arms.
Raines commented, “Why am I going to give up one of my rights because I found an organic plant that some are uncomfortable with?”
“I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to trade my rights like baseball cards.”
During the last 15 years, states across the nation have either legalized or decriminalized marijuana. Most have actually legalized medical marijuana in some shape or form despite its classification under federal law as a controlled substance “with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” For the most part, the feds have maintained a hands-off approach to enforcement in light of states defying the law.
On the other hand, guns come with stricter regulations. In accordance with federal law, it is illegal for a marijuana user to purchase a firearm.
For many gun owners in Texas, acquiring medical marijuana is not an option due to the threat of them losing their gun rights.
The Texas director of Gun Owners of America, Rachel Malone commented on this situation.
“To tell Texans you can’t purchase a firearm if you have a compassionate use card is unconscionable. We should not force people to choose between gun ownership and taking care of themselves.”
Firearms application forms have explicit questions about the use of “marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance.” They also highlight how marijuana remains illegal under federal law.
The warning section, states the following:
“Warning: The use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under Federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medicinal or recreational purposes in the state where you reside.”
In the Dallas Morning News article, Raines admitted that he would use marijuana, regardless of the legal consequences, because of how effective it has been in treating his seizure bouts.
He resoundingly concluded, “I fought for the right to bear arms. It’s literally in our Constitution for me to be able to own a gun. For the state of Texas that is the most pro-gun, I think it’s ridiculous I would have to trade one of my rights.”
A state like Texas, which supposedly has some of the best gun laws in the nation, should not be allowing such an injustice to occur.
This shows the strong linkage between the issue of gun rights and drug freedom.
Liberty is tied to every human activity and should not be treated as mutually exclusive concepts when dealing with activities that some of us don’t partake in.
The connection of these two issues also gives a pragmatic case study of the necessity to build coalitions with separate interest groups—gun rights and drug reform. Although Raines’ case is sad, it does present a golden opportunity for liberty activists to position themselves accordingly and build trans partisan coalitions.