Treat Guns Like Marijuana (or Vice-Versa)
Few issues expose a rift in the cannabis community like the issue of guns in America.
A madman walked into a small-town Texas church and committed the fourth-greatest mass shooting in our nation’s history. That happened just a few weeks after the greatest mass shooting in our nation’s history in Las Vegas. These shootings have become so common and increasingly deadly that the Columbine school shooting in Colorado isn’t even in the Top Ten Deadliest Mass Shootings list anymore.
Half of you reading this are clamoring for some response from our elected officials to institute common sense regulatory reform. The other half of you are steadfastly defending the Second Amendment and noting how prohibition doesn’t work for weed, why would it work for guns?
I’m not here to pick a side this time. After the Sandy Hook shooting left a couple dozen first graders lying slaughtered in their own blood and we changed absolutely nothing about our gun laws, I figured that ending the unique gun status quo in America was hopeless. Our nation has decided that randomly-sprayed bullets in public places are the inevitable side effect of America’s Second Amendment rights. Should you be gunned down in a theater, concert, mall, classroom, nightclub, church, sidewalk, restaurant, or parking lot, that’s just an Act of God, no more foreseeable or preventable than an earthquake or lightning strike. Your only recourse is to arm yourself at all times, everywhere, and be forever vigilant for that moment when you get to add more bullet spraying to the public square.
No, I’m not here to convince you that we should have some gun control or that we should not. What I would like to bring up is something I think we can all agree on.
Marijuana is Safer than Guns – Yet We Treat Them the Opposite
Imagine if getting a gun and some ammo was as difficult as getting a medical marijuana card and some weed.
First of all, there would be twenty states where you couldn’t get a gun legally at all. In the other thirty, you’d have to show that you have a qualifying condition to use a gun. There’d be a list of such conditions, like, say, “public figure, violent neighborhood, protection order against an ex-,” and so forth. It might be really easy to get one in California, but really difficult in New Jersey.
You’d have to visit a social worker who would evaluate your qualifying condition and require some documentation to prove it. Most social workers, however, would work for the government, clinics, or hospitals that would not allow them to sign for your gun card, so you’d have to visit a specialty Gun Card Clinic. It’ll cost you about $200 to get your Gun Card and it is only good for one year.
Now, once you have your Gun Card, you get to go buy a gun and some ammo. However, many of your state’s towns and counties have issued moratoria or bans on all gun commerce. Sure, you can possess guns and ammo with your Gun Card, but if you want to buy some, you need to drive all the way over to another county.
When you get to the other county, you can’t just go buy all the ammo you want. You’re only allowed to possess a 30-day supply of ammo in some states. In others, you may purchase 24 bullets every ten days. All of those bullets are electronically coded and tracked “from munition to shooting,” with 24-hour access by law enforcement to track who made and who bought every single bullet, unless you’re in one of the states that allows you to make your own bullets at home, which fewer than half of the Gun Card states will allow. Plus, some of the states allow you to buy any type of gun, but the most recent states to pass Gun Card laws only allow you to use non-handguns, and every state limits how many guns you can possess at one time.
Finally, you can’t just take out your gun and shoot your bullets anywhere. There is a strict “no public view” law, so your gun can’t even be shown in public, much less shot. There would also be no legal gun ranges, because lawmakers would resist any effort to allow gun users to congregate and use their guns together indoors. You also couldn’t take your gun to the great outdoors and shoot it, even on your own private land, if it were possible to see you shooting from a public right-of-way.
The Right to Farm and Use Herbs
If you think that would be a ridiculous and unconstitutional infringement of our gun rights, then how is it not a greater infringement when applied to medical marijuana?
Your response might be “Second Amendment” – our personal right to guns is enshrined there as interpreted by the Heller Supreme Court decision.
But I believe that our rights to sow seeds, plant crops, and use medicinal herbs are as sacrosanct a set of constitutional rights as our right to keep and bear arms. Our Tenth Amendment states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
Can anyone show me where in the Constitution the federal government was delegated the right to govern personal farming and medicine? Can anyone show me where the Constitution prohibited the states from governing personal farming and medicine?
Our Ninth Amendment states, “The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
Well, our country was founded under the principle that We the People “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
“Among these,” as in, “there are many, many unalienable rights granted by the Creator, and those three are just some of them.” The Ninth Amendment basically says, “just because we wrote a bunch of rights down, that doesn’t mean those are all of the rights people have.”
Now, I ask, in a Constitution written by 18th century hemp farmers in an agrarian economy, how could they have not considered farming to be an unalienable right? If so, what good is a right to farm if you haven’t the right to consume your crop?
Treat Marijuana Like Guns
If we’ve decided that The People should have nearly unfettered access to machines made for the sole purpose of killing, then there is no logical reason why that same level of access shouldn’t be granted to The People for marijuana, which kills nobody.
Forget “treat marijuana like alcohol” – let’s treat marijuana like guns!
First of all, growing your own or buying marijuana would be subject to strict regulations and background checks to ensure you don’t have a criminal record that precludes you from safe marijuana use. However, the loopholes would be so glaring, and omissions so frequent, that pretty much anybody, who wants some weed could get it.
It would be legal in 44 states for you to possess your bong in public and display it in plain view, while the other 6 would require you keep your bong at home. If you wanted something smaller, like a concealable pipe, you could possess that, too, but six states would ban you from displaying it in public. Regardless, possession of bongs or pipes would be legal in all fifty states.
If you wanted to conceal some pipes on your person in public, thirty-one states would allow you to conceal a pipe with no permit at all, though some would require that the pipe is empty. If you got a concealed pipes permit in one state, though, thirty-seven other states would recognize your permit.
There would be specialty stores that carry both paraphernalia and marijuana. Some states might have certain regulations banning dab rigs or what size a bowl a bong could have. But you’d also be able to go buy a general purpose bong and a bunch of weed at any old sporting goods or big box store. Or you could go to your local weed show and buy straight from an unlicensed grower, without all those pesky background checks.
Plus, no limits. You could buy and possess as many bongs, pipes, dab rigs, and weed you like. You could take them with you to any state, so long as you unload them and put them in cases in the trunk of your car. You could buy and possess a loaded bong at age 18 in many states, and as young as age 14 in Minnesota! Many states would allow you to go buy weed at the store at age 16.
I know the gun issue cleaves the cannabis community along liberal / libertarian lines. Among the greatest marijuana reformers I know are Bay Area gun control advocates and Lone Star State open carry activists. Regardless which side of the gun divide you land on, you’ve got to admit it makes no sense to regulate marijuana more strictly.