FPC Asks Maine Court to Find Mere Possession of Marijuana Does Not Render a Person Prohibited From Firearms Possession

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The Firearms Policy Coalition and the Firearms Policy Foundation have filed a brief in a Maine court case asking that the court not terminate an individual’s gun rights over marijuana possession.

Here’s their press release . . .

Portland, ME (December 2, 2019) — Today, Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) and Firearms Policy Foundation (FPF) filed a “friend of the court” brief in the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, sitting as the Law Court, in the case of State of Maine v. Richard A. Tonini, asking the Court to hold that the mere possession of marijuana does not render a person prohibited from possessing firearms. The brief is available online at FPCLegal.org.

The case stems from a non-violent police encounter, where Richard Tonini, the appellant in the case, was pulled over by a Maine State Trooper for a traffic infraction. During the stop, the officer inquired as to a plastic bag in the vehicle’s back seat, which he believed to be marijuana. After confirming its contents, Mr. Tonini admitted to possessing two firearms. Mr. Tonini was charged with furnishing scheduled drugs and being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm. Ultimately, at trial, Mr. Tonini was acquitted of furnishing scheduled drugs but convicted of being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm.

The Supreme Judicial Court invited interested parties to address three questions:

  1. Can a person who possesses marijuana be determined to be “an unlawful user of or . . . addicted to any controlled substance” within the meaning of the firearms possession prohibition in 15 M.R.S. § 393(1)(G) (2018)?
  2. What effect, if any, does an acquittal on a charge of furnishing a scheduled drug have on the State’s ability to establish that the defendant was prohibited from possessing a firearm pursuant to section 393(1)(G)?
  3. What is the test for evaluating the constitutionality of section 393 in light of the United States Supreme Court’s decisions in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), and McDonald v. City of Chicago, 561 U.S. 742 (2010)?

“Based on our research, and as our brief explains, a person who merely possesses marijuana cannot automatically be deemed an ‘unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance’,” said FPC Director of Legal Strategy, attorney, and the brief’s lead author, Adam Kraut. “Nothing in the record indicates Mr. Tonini had previously ingested marijuana, was arrested for marijuana, or was ‘addicted to’ marijuana. Further, based on the Supreme Court’s straightforward categorical method for examining laws that infringe on rights protected under the Second Amendment, Mr. Tonini’s right to keep and bear arms cannot be restricted on the trial record.”

Firearms Policy Coalition (www.firearmspolicy.org) is a 501(c)(4) grassroots nonprofit organization. FPC’s mission is to defend the People’s rights, especially the human right to keep and bear arms, promote individual liberty, and restore freedom.

Firearms Policy Foundation (www.firearmsfoundation.org) is a 501(c)(3) grassroots nonprofit organization. FPF’s mission is to defend the Constitution of the United States and the People’s rights, privileges and immunities deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition, especially the inalienable, fundamental, and individual right to keep and bear arms.

comments

  1. avatar Mrs. Lead says:

    I don’t smoke…. but I also don’t believe that using should disqualify people from firearm ownership. Now, if you are found to be under the influence while operating a firearm (carrying or defending yourself)….good luck fighting the attorney trying to burn you. Carry-on!

    1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

      I’m on the fence with this one. CBD (it helps with my back pain) variety? Yes, it’s fine. THC (ya mon, let’s get baked) variety? No.

      I think, however, that this should be treated like alcohol, in that drinking a bottle of beer or a glass of wine doesn’t affect your legal right to own a gun. But if you’re found to be intoxicated while using a gun, you risk being arrested and charged. Same should go for marijuana.

      If you’re dumb enough to smoke or drink to get a buzz, and then pick up a gun, you’re fair game for the legal consequences if anything bad happens.

      1. avatar LifeSavor says:

        Haz,

        As, always, a reasonable approach. CBD is a powerful anti-inflammatory; the endocannabinoid system, including our brain, actually generates CB1 and CB2 receptors when inflammation occurs; our bodies are designed to use CBD.

        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2219532/
        Also, any search on “Dr. Judy Mikovits CBD” will return research on CBD/THC healing properties. I’ve attended her lectures. She is impressive.

        THC also has medical properties for treatment of pain, anxiety, insomnia, just to name a few conditions. I know people using it with good results, including someone in my household. I insisted it be with a tincture or edible because to avoid exposure through smoke. I do not want any trace in my system should I ever need to use my firearm defensively.

        1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

          My brother uses it to help with his Parkinson’s shakes.
          I was amazed when I saw the difference an hour made after an eye dropper of it under his tongue. He could use his phone again.

        2. avatar Jon in CO says:

          This. Edibles are absolutely the way to go. Smoking just causes more problems, mess, and hassles.

        3. avatar Anonymous says:

          In my experience, it worked for a while but then it turned me into a shriveling paranoid wreck. I was committed to a psychiatric ward three. times. This was 15 years ago and I still remember how cold that place was. It was not fun, there were people in white coats watching us. In the events leading up to it, I was thinking the feds and everyone else were out to kill me, that every car out there was a spy, and my own grandparents were secretly neo-nazis. It all came to a wonderful end when I ran, barefoot except for a pair of socks, to a police station and begged them to arrest me for some crime I thought I had involvement in. So, I’m going to have to disagree that marijuana has any sort of “medical” properties, and leave this reply without my usual name.

        4. avatar Guesty McGuesterson says:

          @Anonymous,

          Ok, Vlad. So you have the supernatural ability to run “barefoot” while wearing socks?

        5. avatar Jon in CO says:

          @anonymous

          You used pot and it turned you into a paranoid wreck and had you committed 3 times?

          That’s not weed bro. That’s some other shit. Like meth. Or acid. Or shrooms (a bunch of REALLY bad trips). Please, old white guys, keep your disinfo made up stories to your circle of friends. Hint: they probably aren’t buying it either. It’s stories like this that let me know you’ve never taken a hit ever. You used it for a while THEN it made you crazy? Come on. Those old PSA’s from the 30’s are made up. I’ve got dozens of friends who smoke or eat it multiple times per day, and have for years. It’s never happened. Unless you’re the 1/1,000,000 weird genetics, this is total horse shit.

        6. avatar Roymond says:

          @ Anonymous & Jon in CO:

          For those with anxiety disorders there’s a threshold above which THC flips into fueling paranoia. When using it for anxiety, you do NOT want to get stoned, you want to barely feel it. The same is true of PTSD sufferers, though doses can be higher.

          Fifteen years ago this may not have been known, A, but it has been known for at least four years now; my doctor pointed me to research on this when I was in pain management. In fact, you really want a strain that is about even for THC and CBD, because they complement each other when it comes to anxiety, the THC making your mood mellow and the CBD providing body relaxation.

          Though Jon may have a point; there are suppliers who enjoy lacing their product with traces of other things, so you absolutely have to have a trusted supplier! If you’re dealing with an anxiety disorder and get some herb high in THC, low in CBD, and laced lightly with meth or heroin, you’ve got a prescription for not just paranoia but suicidal urges.

    2. avatar LifeSavor says:

      Mrs. Lead,

      100% agree.

    3. avatar Biatec says:

      Prohibited persons is unconstitutional. It’s all personal opinion at the end of the day. I don’t think anyone has ever driven drunk should be allowed to drive again. yet we live in a country where someone smokes pot for fun and if they get caught somehow they are prohibited. Even if they were doing it safely.

      I don’t smoke pot but we should oppose all laws and regulations on weapons.

    4. avatar Country Boy says:

      Well then you must also believe that one in possesion of alcoholic beverage/s is/should also be deemed “a prohibited person” from owning firearms too…..right?? Both alcohol & pot alters one’s thinking, behavior, mood, and reactions. RIGHT? While you might not like pot…..let us not be so quick to instantly give up one person rights, when it’s also our own right too.

      Think about it…….

  2. avatar Huntmaster says:

    What other enumerated rights do you lose forever after being found in possession of marijuana?

    1. avatar Omer says:

      Perhaps this is why felons should get their guns rights back? I’m all for restoring all rights to all free people. BUT, I most earnestly believe that if one who has control of their facilities and CANNOT be trusted with a firearm should be incarcerated or executed. If they can’t be trusted in society not to hurt others, don’t release them. If they will never be trusted in society not to commit violence, execute them.

      1. avatar anarchyst says:

        Felons who complete their full sentences AND provide full restitution to their victims should have their full “rights” restored. Yes, this includes the right to possess and use firearms. Anything less is unconstitutional.

        1. avatar Anymouse says:

          The 5th and 14th Ammendments provide for the loss of liberty with the due process of law, so it’s constitutional. You could argue that it’s unnecessary and should be changed, especially in cases of non-violent felonies, such as tax evasion, fraud, etc.

        2. avatar Biatec says:

          I don’t agree with your interpretation of those. It would be unlikely the founders intent to create a class of Americans without rights. Prison is what they meant not mass lists and permanent infringements. Also the 14th amendment is one of the most twisted and abused amendments.

          Just because you can be put in prison and deprived of your rights does not make laws infringing on the 2a “shall not be infringed” acceptable.

          Prison does not require infringements of the 2a but laws after the fact do. It violates the 2a. It’s not just “due process” and then the government can do what ever they want with you. There are other amendments. The government is not allowed to make laws regulation arms.

        3. avatar Biatec says:

          regulating*

        4. avatar Ralph says:

          “Felons who complete their full sentences AND provide full restitution to their victims should have their full “rights” restored. ”

          Agree completely — but that means that felons will never get their full rights restored, since none of them ever make restitution. Ever.

        5. avatar Country Boy says:

          What if there is no “victim” in the commission of the ‘felony” ? There are quite a few “flonies” in which the only true victim…is the “perpetrator”.

          Say… someone gets caught with a felonius possession of pot…..Who is “the victim” ??? Only one I see is the one who was busted for it. He’s the one that “suffers”. Right? That bag of pot din’t rob, knife nor shoot anyone. Who’s the “victim” ?

          FWIW, our Founding Fathers grew pot. The government paid farmers to grow hemp (a species of pot) in WWI & II. IMO, free citizens in a free country should have the right to smoke pot, or tobacco, both plants that are merely dried out and rolled up, as well as buy liquor or make their own unhindered by the US Gov.

          Imagine if Jack Daniels and the like were banned tomorrow. (OMG!)

          It’s We The People…..people. Wake up and stop agreeing with corrupt politicians who are oh-so eager to relieve us of the *few rights* we have left. To be free one has to think and believe free.

      2. avatar Complete Disapproval says:

        @Omer:
        As the old saying goes, “Be careful what you wish for; you might get it.” In your case, that’s a proliferation of executions and the accompanying brutalization of the society that goes with it. In my (not so humble) opinion you would make a dandy lieutenant for a Josef Stalin.

  3. avatar Sam Hill says:

    Do they still call marijuana dope, or just the people that use it, sell it, or transport, it? Not sure if someone dumb enough to ride around with bag of weed on the back seat, is smart enough to have firearms.
    Even Willie Nelson hides his weed in his guitar and you thought the extra hole was for sound, makes it easier to retrieve the grass without removing the strings.

    1. avatar Mickelson Plated says:

      I think the only people who call weed “dope” are people who have never even seen it in person, and think “Reefer Madness” was a documentary.

      Noone I know ever refers to weed as dope. And I know many stoners.

      Dope is heroin. Get your terminology straight.

      1. avatar Nickel Plated says:

        Not referring to you specifically Sam regarding the terminology. Just sayin in general.

        Also, Mickelson Plated? Dafuq. Auto-correct ur drunk, go home.

  4. avatar BusyBeef says:

    You can’t be addicted to Marijuana any more than you can be addicted to Cheetos.

    1. avatar LifeSavor says:

      Exactly. That is why it is a much safer choice for medical pain management.

    2. avatar CWT says:

      From what I’ve read you can’t OD on the stuff but you can become addicted to anything. It is only the level of addiction that varies.

    3. avatar Eric in Oregon says:

      Not true, marijuana is profoundly addictive (as Dr. Drew says), especially if you start in your teens. Just like any drug.

      1. avatar LifeSavor says:

        Eric in Oregon,

        I have not seen any science demonstrating addictive properties of marijuana. I have seen/heard/read anti-marijuana activists claiming it is addictive, but the science says “No”. That is why, once you get your ID card, you are free to purchase and use as needed.

        HOWEVER, let’s be clear on definitions: addiction connotes a chemical dependency. Your body starts to hurt without the addictive substance. In that strict sense, there is no chemical in marijuana upon which the body will become dependent.

        HOWEVER, marijuana use can be habit-forming, causing dependency. Example: If you use it to sleep, you may become convinced you cannot sleep without it. You think you are dependent. That looks a lot like addiction, but it is significantly easier to overcome than true chemical dependency.

        Maybe that is what Dr. Drew meant.

        While in ministry, I spent a year as an intern in a drug/alchohol rehab center, then 3 years as a jail chaplain. It does not make me an expert, but built a lot of memories.

        1. avatar Eric in Oregon says:

          I’ll stick with the doctor’s opinion and my own observations of people who obviously just can’t stop even into middle age. Splitting tiny hairs on what this or that means (as pot smokers like to do) is just not interesting.

      2. avatar Country Boy says:

        Then guns are addictive too, by your defintion………..

        Just because one buys/owns new or old guns his whole life, therefore means he’s addicted to guns ?

        People that smoke pot might just do it because they LIKE it. Not because they are “addicted” to it.

        I’d say it would depend on the person…if he has an “addictive trait” that runs in the family heritage.

        Personally I don’t hold it against anyone if they smoke pot and are responsible in life. Same with drinking, owning guns motorcycles, hot rods, hobbies etc.

        If they want to smoke it, they should have the right to. I could care less. So long as they’re not robbing, or killing to smoke it.

      3. avatar Generational brainwashing sucks says:

        OK Boomer

  5. avatar Shire-man says:

    They’ll never permit this. They want you to have to choose so if you vote to get stoned you lose your guns and accept all the other garbage that comes with the party that generally favors marijuana legalization and there are still enough right-wing nanny-staters who believe Reefer Madness to be a factual account.

    It’s all good if you lose your 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th Amendments and 80% of your pay is taken every week as long as you can walk around baked and giggling like an idiot.

    You can use guns to defend your weed. You can’t use weed to defend your guns.

    1. avatar Casey says:

      Well, to you want to take the soma and live in the world state with the other Deltas, or do you want to be a savage with your guns and live births? Because, outside of forums like this, the world is full of Lindas dying to get back to London.

    2. avatar Chris says:

      This is California’s business model. They’ll legalize pot and all sorts of other shit under the condition that you surrender your 2A. Gavin wants everybody stoned, stupid, homeless, festering with HIV, marrying somebody of a questionable gender or that of an illegal residency in America. He doesn’t care as long as they’re dependent on him, because that’s what generates votes.

    3. avatar Country Boy says:

      Not if you assume it’ll never be passed and stay quiet. Which is EXACTLY what the US Gov/ATF/Antigunners want (and hope and pray) you’ll believe….and do. Get “woke”….LOL

  6. avatar NORDNEG says:

    Don’t Bogart that du bee, 😎🚬🤙🏾

  7. avatar Rick Bennett says:

    I’ve wondered for some time, when an “enterprising”, most likely left leaning, prosecutor, governor, etc… was going to leverage the ATF form 4473 question 11e, to contend that anyone with a medical marijuana card is assumed to be a marijuana user, prohibited person and therefore is not allowed to purchase or possess a firearm.

    In any state, such as Illinois, where a state issued FOID (Firearm Owners ID) is required, if there is any kind of medical marijuana registry, cross-referencing the two databases generates a potential violators list. Name, address, etc….

    1. avatar Nickel Plated says:

      Happened in PA I believe. Once medical became legal. After a while, state police cross referenced the list of MMJ cards and LTCF permits. Permit revoked.

      Dont register your guns or your drugs. Nothing good can come of it.

      1. avatar GS650G says:

        Its what happens when people partner with law and play by the other sides rules.

  8. avatar GS650G says:

    So if a person is prohibited from owning firearms or other devices considered weapons because they are a danger to the rest of us how does that prevent someone from renting a truck to do harm with? Or buying rat poison or other common household item to use on people?
    The notion of gun prohibition is a recent one and not part of the original constitution. We have allowed rights to be abridged only in a limited or few instances however firearms stand out as the most restricted imaginable. Of course while reasons to disarm others and ban the possession of types of guns goes on the authorities are tooling up with weapons of war including drones.

  9. avatar Nanashi says:

    Strike down the CSA entirely! #FreeFilburn !

  10. avatar MARJEWWANNA says:

    The 4473 still has that question and ur a felon if u lie……and that is federal law.

    I have seen many people high who should not use guns when they are stoned cuz they are worse than Drunks & Paranoid!

    All the potheads in school never amounted to anything…they are all doing manual labor or on welfare or disability!

    I do support it for pain & other things when its not abused…but, still can’t have a gun under federal law.

  11. avatar Hannibal says:

    The “decriminalization” of pot- while maintaining its schedule status on a federal level- is stupid and should be ended. As a country we should go one way or another. Make it legal (as alcohol) or not.

  12. avatar strych9 says:

    This is one of those things where I figure the feds should probably just get ahead of the situation.

    At this point 11 sates have legalized recreational marijuana and 21 have legalized medical marijuana. More will follow in both cases. The tide has turned on this issue and it’s only a matter of time. The public just doesn’t buy the Reefer Madness/Devil’s Harvest thing any more. There might be couple hold-out states in the future but for the most part it’s gonna be legalized across the states and probably at the federal level eventually too.

    Once it’s legalized the feds will be back to square one. Colorado CBI checks to see if you have a medical card but why would anyone who smokes pot bother with a medical card at this point in Colorado? Sure there’s a bit of a discount and you can have a bit more or have a few more plants but, really, it’s pretty minimal.

    Now, I don’t advocate breaking federal law here but the rules for a 4473 are not that well defined in terms of what a “user” is (as evidenced by this story) and if you’re buying it on recreational market there’s realistically no way they’re gonna know so just like buying it off the street you can check “no” on 11.e. and buy a gun.

    On top of that the whole scheduling thing with the DEA is fucking bullshit from the jump and everyone knows it. They classify all sorts of things as “no medical use” and then turn around and allow them to be used medically. They’ve also done the reverse and taken things that were medical and declared them narcotics for no particular reason other than that some people didn’t like them and the government simply could.

    The whole thing is stupid. The WoD is stupid. It’s also been lost for decades. It’s like watching someone just get beat on for multiple rounds in boxing. Just throw in the damn towel already.

  13. avatar Chris T in KY says:

    All my life the potheads have been anti civil rights. They said “if we could just make pot legal then the black drug dealers won’t have a need for guns.”
    I don’t trust them. They are responsible for the new gun control laws in Colorado, Washington State and California. Only when the white dealers are getting robbed do they now understand why blacks wanted guns.

    Show me where the multi million dollar pot business men and women, have donated to support gun rights????
    I already know they have donated to take civil rights away. They have helped Bloomberg to make everyone a slave.

    Ask your rich pothead friends why they have not give $$$ to support gun rights????? I assume they call themselves LIBERTARIANS!!!

    BTW
    If the medicine works take it. It should be legal. But that’s not the point here. Legalization is just a distraction. And if you are driving a car under the influence I hope your arrested and put in jail.

    And if you shoot and miss your target while under the influence don’t come crying to the jury I’m on.

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