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US Court Says Medical Marijuana Cardholders Have No 2nd Amendment Rights

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A federal appeals court has upheld the government's ban on the sale of guns to medical marijuana card holders. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in California said Wednesday the ban does not violate the 2nd Amendment.

The ruling applies to the nine Western states that fall under the court's jurisdiction, including California, Washington and Oregon. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law which makes it illegal for someone to possess a gun if he or she is "an unlawful user of, or addicted to" marijuana or other controlled substances.

A September 2011 letter from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, issued in response to numerous inquiries from gun dealers, clarified that medical marijuana patients are included in that definition.

The 9th Circuit Court ruling resulted from a lawsuit filed by S. Rowan Wilson, a Nevada woman who tried to buy a firearm in 2011 after obtaining a medical marijuana card.  The gun store refused, citing the federal rule on the sale of firearms to illegal drug users. Morgan Fox is Communications Manager for the Washington D.C.- based Marijuana Policy Project:    "This is really indicative of a problem with federal law. No other medicine invalidates people's constitutional rights and because marijuana is still illegal federally, the federal government is able to do that and limit people's constitutional rights to owning a firearm. This problem can be very easily solved by removing marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and regulating it similarly to alcohol."

Wilson's attorney tells NBC News there needs to be more consistency in applying the Second Amendment, and indicated he plans to appeal.  Psychobiology professor Bertha Madras from the Psychiatry Department at Harvard Medical School argues marijuana and alcohol are in two very separate categories. "Marijuana stays in the body for a much longer time than alcohol. One drink clears within a few hours, depending on whether or not you've eaten and your tolerance, there's a whole lot of factors. But generally speaking, the effects will be gone within three hours. With marijuana the effects can persist in terms of brain function for many more than three hours and they can persist even the following day."

A research study published online Wednesday by the journal Lancet Psychiatry shows more U.S. adults are using marijuana, using it more often and far fewer think it's risky. The experts attribute the shift in thinking to dozens of states that now allow medical marijuana and four states that have recently legalized pot for recreational use.

Madras argues the vast majority of people who partake of marijuana are using the substance to get "high" ...  "...and that's why the 9th circuit court in San Francisco, headquartered on the west coast, just denied a petition to allow people with medical marijuana cards to have gun permits, and they did it because they said that this is an intoxicating drug, and it should not be associated with anybody who has access to a gun."

More than a half million U.S. adults participated in the Lancet survey over a dozen years, and the responses clearly show a shift in attitude. Only a third of adults in 2014 said they thought weekly marijuana use was dangerous, down from half of adults in 2002.

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