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Top Florida Democrat Sues Biden Administration Over Marijuana and Guns

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. Florida’s only statewide elected Democrat, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, plans to sue the Biden administration Wednesday to try to block a federal rule banning medical marijuana users buy a firearm or maintain a carry-on permit.

NBC News obtained a draft of the lawsuit.

The lawsuit targets a federal form that asks if the person buying the gun is an illegal drug user and specifies that marijuana is illegal under federal law. A person authorized by the state to use marijuana must then mark “yes,” which leads to a refusal to purchase. Lying by ticking “no” risks being sentenced to 5 years in prison for making false statements.

Fried, whose office oversees concealed firearms licenses and medical marijuana centers, argues in his lawsuit that the practice violates Second Amendment rights to cannabis patients legal health care and violates a congressional budget ban on federal agents interfering with state-sanctioned marijuana laws.

The lawsuit extends beyond Florida: At least 37 states have legalized medical marijuana, and recreational use is legal in 18 states, as well as Guam and Washington, D.C.

The lawsuit is expected to land on April 20 – a nod to slang reference out of a total of “420” for marijuana.

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The lawsuit is filled with political opportunity for Fried, who became the only Democrat elected statewide in 2018 when she ran for office on an undaunted pro-marijuana platform. Two years ago, 71 percent of Florida voters legalized medical marijuana, and polls show a majority in favor of legalizing recreational use.

Florida also has 2.5 million concealed firearm license holders, according to Fried’s office.

“Medical marijuana is legal. Guns are legal. This is all about people’s rights,” Fried said in a statement to NBC News. “And I don’t care who I have to sue to fight for their freedom.”

In his official capacity as agriculture commissioner, Fried will bring lawsuits against three citizens who have been affected by the federal rules. It named the head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Attorney General Merrick Garland as defendants.

While it’s rare for a Democrat to sue a Democratic administration during an election year, Fried said the matter can’t wait any longer because of the volume of complaints her office has received.

A spokesperson for the ATF said the agency “cannot speculate on possible litigation or discuss any pending litigation” but tacitly blamed lawmakers involved. state for not changing the Controlled Substances Act and the Gun Control Act, which regulate marijuana and firearms, respectively.

President Joe Biden’s refusal to act on federal marijuana regulations has been a sore point for Democrats, including supporters like John Morgan, a Florida trial attorney and Fundraising from Biden who funded the state’s successful medical marijuana initiative.

“I’ve talked to Joe privately about this, and he’s not going to do it. Joe Biden doesn’t understand marijuana,” Morgan said, citing the resistance of the 79-year-old president and members of his family to alcohol and drug abuse, including his son Hunter Biden.

“Joe abused drugs so much in his own family that in his mind it was inevitable. The older people get, the less people understand what cannabis is. To them, it’s all the same — marijuana, heroin, LSD,” says Morgan, dismissing the idea that those substances are called gateway drugs with an obscene language. “We know the gateway drug is alcohol.”

Despite liking Fried’s marijuana policy, Morgan is backing her rival in the race for governor, Rep. Charlie Crist, and he says he’s not sure how much she can pull through political journey.

Fried’s former pollster, Keith Frederick, said any risk to her going against the Biden administration is offset because she is raising her profile by capturing an issue. popular topic.

“You can have the best affordable housing plan you can,” says Frederick, “but once you get to point #2, people stare and they stop paying attention. “People care about this.”

Support for medical marijuana and marijuana legalization cuts across party lines, as well as opposition to conflicting provisions in state and federal law. Gun rights are also common in Florida.

Fried’s lawsuit notes that even conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas spoke in an unrelated case about “a half-inner, half-outer regime that simultaneously tolerates and prohibits the use of marijuana. “

“This state of contradiction and instability strains the fundamentals of federalism and hides traps for the unwary,” says Thomas.

Other plaintiffs have tried and failed to sue the federal government over gun purchases. Fried’s lawsuit points to the most recent one for presenting “a thin and old fact sheet” that inappropriately ignored a federal study that concluded “the use of marijuana does not constitute a crime.” commit violence.”

Additionally, unlike other unsuccessful federal lawsuits, Fried’s lawsuit alleges that this practice violates the so-called Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, which prohibits the ATF from enforcing anti-marijuana policies in the states. chose to legalize.

Fried’s office said that instead of allowing states to legalize marijuana, the ATF changed the form of gun purchases, known as 4473, by specifically adding: “Warning: Use or possession of a gun. Marijuana remains illegal under Federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or not legalized for medical or recreational purposes in your state of residence. ”

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