Gun rights and medical marijuana legal reform advocates are seeking to join forces in Minnesota, where they hope to petition the federal government to drop its severe classification of marijuana.
The coalition of strange political bedfellows has emerged because medical marijuana users are barred from holding firearms permits, as the federal government designates marijuana a schedule I illegal drug – on a par with heroin, LSD and ecstasy – unsafe and without medicinal benefit.
This despite the growing number of US states that have legalized cannabis and derived products for medicinal and recreational use.
“The registry is going to grow a lot,” Republican Minnesota state representative Jeremy Munson told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “All of those people will be denied the right to get a shotgun in the fall to go hunting.”
Another Republican representative, Rod Hamilton, said he was prescribed medical marijuana to treat multiple sclerosis. After he registered as a medical marijuana user, a renewal of his firearms permit was denied.
“In the eyes of the federal government, we’re all felons, and it’s just tragic,” Hamilton told the Star Tribune.
Together, the coalition of left-leaning marijuana and conservative gun rights advocates hope to petition the federal government to reconsider its classification of marijuana as schedule I drug.
Medical marijuana advocates have long sought to change this federal designation, because it makes traditionally funded scientific study of marijuana almost impossible. Researchers must navigate multiple federal, state, local and institutional agencies to study marijuana.
The coalition of conservative lawmakers joining their ranks is an unexpected new development in the marijuana debate. Minnesota is one of 36 states with a medical marijuana program, and part of a long push to treat decriminalize, and treat drug use as a matter of public health.
This year, Minnesota legislators expanded their medical marijuana program to allow legal sales of marijuana flower. This is expected to dramatically expand the program because flower is lower cost. Previously, the state only allowed marijuana liquids and pills to be sold medicinally.