ClearCast Episode 5: A Federal Court Says Nevadans May Not Buy a Gun If They Possess a Medical Marijuana Card

6 September Update:

[Editor’s note] Thanks for all the responses we received!

I’m going to take a few minutes here and address some of the concerns brought to my attention1)because we care!. The points are not related, but I present my points in list form so it is easiest to read.

First, here is the video for you to enjoy:

 

 

If you scroll down, you will see a transcript from the conversation, along with my original analysis from last week.

1. “She claims she wasn’t using, but I don’t buy that.”

This is the most discussed angle of the case, which I just find a little silly, given that there are many an issue in dispute from this Order. This is not one of them.

Some of you may not be versed in the intricacies of appellate law2)Come on, get it together, but you should know that the 9th Circuit panel accepted Ms. Wilson assertion that she does not consume marijuana as true. And it was not an option. Let’s go to the text:

However, taking Wilson’s allegations as true, as we must
on an appeal from a motion to dismiss, Usher v. City of Los
Angeles, 828 F.2d 556, 561 (9th Cir. 1987), she is not
actually an unlawful drug user. Instead, she alleges that,
although she obtained a registry card, she chose not to use
medical marijuana for various reasons, such as the difficulties
of acquiring medical marijuana in Nevada, as well as a desire
to make a political statement. Regardless of her motivations,
we agree that Wilson’s claims do not fall under the direct
scope of Dugan.3)p. 12(emphasis added)

Ah, there it is. What’s going on? There is a (good) rule in appellate law, that the reviewing court accepts all of the allegations of the appealing party as true in a motion to dismiss.

This is necessary because none of these three, 9th Circuit judges were not present4)or even in the state of Nevada when the evidence was introduced. Appellate judges just aren’t in a position to evaluate Ms. Wilson’s claim.

Therefore, in order to give her appeal its full weight, they accept the allegations as true.5)If they would have decided for Ms. Wilson, they could have sent the case back to Nevada district court to have the evidence issues fully litigated. Ms. Wilson was never even given a chance for a trial. Her claim was dismissed even before the summary judgment phase.

Even if are still inclined to disbelieve Ms. Wilson6)You do you!, just know that the 9th Circuit here did not decided against her because they thought she was lying about consumption. They accept her allegations that she only possess the card but doesn’t consume and still denied her gun rights just as a medical marijuana card holder.

 

2.  What’s the Deal With This Term “Unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance“?

Great question! Wouldn’t “unlawful user” be sufficient?7)in English, yes, but this is the law What would you say if I told you “unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance” is actually of term of art, in law?8)I know; contain yourself

Because I care for you, dear reader, I dissected the Code of Federal Regulations9)You are not the only person asking, wait, what is this? I will explain because we are all about empowering you. Most everyone is familiar with the ‘Separation of Powers’ under our Constitution. The legislature writes the laws, the executive enforces the law, the judicial branch evaluates. It is not practical for the legislature to write out every detail of new laws, so often the rule making (that is, how the law will be put into effect. For example, the legislature will say “No drug users can buy guns,” but how that law is enforced (will the federal government assign an agent to every gun store? Maybe an open letter would be more efficacious) will be assigned to the appropriate executive department, in this case the ATF. and found the definition. I will reproduce it in full so you may see it in all its glory:10)Remember as you read, people classified as an “unlawful user” may not buy a gun in Nevada

Unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance. A person who uses a controlled substance and has lost the power of self-control with reference to the use of controlled substance; and any person who is a current user of a controlled substance in a manner other than as prescribed by a licensed physician. Such use is not limited to the use of drugs on a particular day, or within a matter of days or weeks before, but rather that the unlawful use has occurred recently enough to indicate that the individual is actively engaged in such conduct. A person may be an unlawful current user of a controlled substance even though the substance is not being used at the precise time the person seeks to acquire a firearm or receives or possesses a firearm. An inference of current use may be drawn from evidence of a recent use or possession of a controlled substance or a pattern of use or possession that reasonably covers the present time, e.g., a conviction for use or possession of a controlled substance within the past year; multiple arrests for such offenses within the past 5 years if the most recent arrest occurred within the past year; or persons found through a drug test to use a controlled substance unlawfully, provided that the test was administered within the past year. For a current or former member of the Armed Forces, an inference of current use may be drawn from recent disciplinary or other administrative action based on confirmed drug use, e.g., court-martial conviction, nonjudicial punishment, or an administrative discharge based on drug use or drug rehabilitation failure.11)source (emphasis added)

Thoughts on what the bold section above means? Where did I put my Wittgenstein12)Doubtful, we want to be having a function vs. essence discussion with legal code (Drudge-esq) alarm13)Must have left it in the sandbox again..darn?14)It’s “not limited to…within a matter of days or weeks before”

I have now read that sentence at least 6 times. It makes less sense with each rereading. The problem is the word “recently,” which Merriam-Webster defines as “during a period of time that has just passed15)Did they really split the infinitive? Oy.

Above, we have the government applying the word “recently,” then denying the word’s definition. How can something be “recent” if it hasn’t happened in weeks?16)That’s how it’s done Ron Darling

I don’t have much else to add on this point other than, if you don’t like this, write your congresswoman.

One last point on this section of the CFR. Did you notice that they made a distinction in the definition for members of the armed services17)In theory, I’m not against this?

Would the case have turned out differently if she was retired from the Air Force? Should it?18)I can see both sides

This is not useful for gun sellers that want to obey the law.

This is the open letter19)the link in the opinion is broken cited in the Opinion that the ATF sent to the gun sellers.

..It’s pretty obvious why the seller denied Ms. Wilson a firearm. Can’t blame him; the man is just trying to run a small business without federal interference.

[End Update. Thanks for coming back. Just wait until Friday when I drop 2000 words about the legal ramifications of misnaming a Wade Phillips'20)Apparently “dog” is a defense? “Blitz”… -Brian]

Are We Going to Allow a Federal Court to Distinguish Away Our 2nd Amendment Rights?

[Editor’s note] Hello and welcome to your Labor Day Weekend ClearCast!

Did you hear what a California federal court did your 2nd Amendment rights?

Our friends in the media have only begun to notice what happened in San Francisco earlier this week.

Yes, you read that right. A federal court said that Nevadans may not buy a gun if they are a registered medical marijuana patient.

(I can hear the chorus of objections of all sides…not to worry folks, that’s what we are here for.)

Unfortunately, Mr. Flake and Mr. Barlow had/have client obligations this week, and asked me to supplement this ClearCast.

First, you need to understand that Nevada is under the jurisdiction of the 9th Circuit, as you can see below:

circuit map

Now you understand why a ruling from San Francisco can affect your gun rights. On to the show!

Beneath the video I added aides to help with the discussion.

[Still noting]

Here is a link to the opinion. And here is a link to the ATF form discussed (the question is “e”). Here is how the DEA schedules different drugs.

I think Mr. Barlow and Mr. Flake have the global analysis of this case exactly right: that one of our fellow Nevadans wanted to use the federal courts to expand the scope of the 2nd Amendment (count me in the group that think’s Ms. Wilson’s protest is reasonable), and said protest went horribly wrong, and in fact, they achieved the exact opposite of the desired result.21)This is has been a horrific Summer for fans of conservative jurisprudence [and I’m not talking about North Carolina, that nonsense isn’t conservative, it’s just racist partisanship], or at least as the media describes it. Recall the reproductive rights case handed down by the SCOTUS a few weeks ago? They essentially cemented access to an abortion as a fundamental right. It seems, from afar, that the conservative strategy to undermine abortion was to distinguish away the rights in small phases. For example, see the difference between the rights articulated in Roe v. Wade verses Planned Parenthood v. Casey. In this year’s Texas case, the anti-abortion folks got a little too overzealous, and decided to run that Texas law (requiring abortion clinics to have all the same medical equipment as a hospital, without justification [except that they don’t like abortion, which doesn’t count]) all the way up the chain. Instead of getting the abortion prohibition [which always seemed unlikely], the Supreme Court drew a bright line for how far abortion restrictions can go. The court would have never commented on abortion without prompting; now, (from my humble perspective) they will need a constitutional amendment to outlaw abortion.

I see something similar here. It seems absurd that a medical condition would prevent someone from buying a gun; so the lawyer here thought he was onto something. However, these constitutional challenges are not free (literally in terms of cost, but also in terms of political risk) because you are at risk of a judge taking your facts and making the law he wants. This means if you are going to bring a constitutional challenge, especially because it affects everyone, you have a duty to argue this case correctly. I agree with my employers, the lawyer here made a huge error of omission of not questioning the government’s assertions that medical marijuana has no medicinal value and/or medical marijuana users are more inclined to be violent. We, as Nevadans, would be better off if they would have never brought this legal challenge. Please don’t challenge constitutional law if you are unable to/won’t prepare sufficiently. It affects all of us.

Before you head off for your Labor Day fun, I want to show my liberal friends why I support my 2A brothers and sisters. I am going to quote a graf22)Yes, I just did that from Wilson:

Because the degree of fit between 18 U.S.C. § 922(d)(3), 27 C.F.R. § 478.11, and the Open Letter and their purpose of preventing gun violence is reasonable but not airtight, these laws will sometimes burden–albeit minimally and only incidentally–the Second Amendment rights of individuals who are reasonably, but erroneously, suspected of being unlawful drug users. However, the Constitution tolerates these modest collateral burdens in various contexts, and does so here as well. For instance, the Fourth Amendment allows an officer to burden an individual’s right to be free from searches when the officer has “reason to believe” the person is armed and dangerous, see Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 27 (1968), a standard comparable to the “reasonable cause to WILSON V. LYNCH believe” standard of § 922(d). Moreover, as previously noted, there are various ways for individuals in Wilson’s position to minimize or eliminate altogether the burdens that 18 U.S.C. § 922(d)(3), 27 C.F.R. § 478.11, and the Open Letter place on their Second Amendment rights. Accordingly, 18 U.S.C. § 922(d)(3), 27 C.F.R. § 478.11, and the Open Letter survive intermediate scrutiny, and the district court did not err in dismissing Wilson’s Second Amendment claims.23)pp 18-19

You see now, liberals? Yes, that’s right. The constitutional amendments are stronger, together24)sorry. They are using that awful Terry decision (where the Supreme Court gutted the 4th Amendment under specious reasoning)25)This is only my opinion to justify why the 2nd Amendment does not mean what we all understand it to mean in a post-Heller world.

ALL of us need to support ALL constitutional rights, or we ALL will be sorry..

Thanks for watching!

-Brian

Transcript:

Jonathan: Welcome to ClearCast, today’s episode of ClearCast. Today, we’ve got Jordan Flake, and myself, Jonathan Barlow, we’re attorneys here, and there’s a super-interesting case that came out of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, that’s based in California, yesterday, and it ducktails two very hot-topic issues in the law and society today. It dealt with gun rights, under the Second Amendment, and Medical Marijuana use, and the rights of those who hold Medical Marijuana cards under State law. The Ninth Circuit is a part of the Court of Appeals that covers nine Western States, including mainly California, is the largest one, of course, but it also covers Nevada, which is where we are.

Jordan, you have to tell us a little bit about what this case said, and what it does?

Jordan: Well, first of all, the very second that you mention Second Amendment rights, Gun Rights, and Medical Marijuana, hopefully, everybody is just filled with opinions, and filled with all kinds of angst, and that’s fine, that’s what we’re here for. We’re very interested in advancing the discussion.

Let me just run down what happened: A woman in Nevada in 2011 went to go purchase a gun, and Brian’s our off-camera support here; he’ll help us and correct us if we get any of the facts wrong

Brian: Hi, everyone!

Jordan: She went to go purchase a gun in 2011, and she was denied, because she has a Medical Marijuana Card. She is confused; she says, “Well, I have a right to bear arms under the Second Amendment, and the mere fact that I have a Medical Marijuana Card shouldn’t be a big deal!” In fact, she said she didn’t even use marijuana …

Jonathan: She just kept the card?

Jordan: She just kept the card because maybe it made her feel cool … Made her be able to hang with the cool kids, and show the card, and be like, “Yeah, I don’t really smoke, because I don’t like it …” Anyway, she was denied purchasing a gun, so she brought this lawsuit, essentially saying, “Listen, this is not valid grounds for restricting, and taking away my Second Amendment rights to bear arms and purchase a gun.”

The government came along and …

Jonathan: The Federal Government …

Jordan: The Federal Government, yeah, it’s really important to know, what we’re talking about here is the Federal Government, because the Federal Government classifies marijuana as a “Schedule 1 drug.” A Schedule 1 drug is a drug that is deemed by the Federal Government not to have any practical medical uses; that’s a hot topic for a different day, because I know a lot of you out there will be saying, “Well, Medical Marijuana has been shown to have …”

Jonathan: It’s legal!

Jordan: It’s legal, and it has been shown to have good uses. Well, one of the frustrating thing about this case, jumping ahead in the story a little bit, is that we missed an opportunity to put some of these arguments about how Medical Marijuana helps people in front of the court. That’s one of the things that’s frustrating about it.

Basically, what happened here, is because it’s a Schedule 1 drug, ATF, Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, the Federal Agency, sent out a letter to all the gun sellers in the country, and said, “Listen: If a potential purchaser of a gun has a Medical Marijuana Card, they can’t purchase the gun, because we have restrictions against people with substance abuse issues purchasing guns.”

Jonathan: The interesting thing for this lady is that that the law, or that mailing, came from the ATF, says it doesn’t matter if they don’t even use marijuana, because the gun seller is required to infer … Something along those lines, the gun seller is supposed to infer that the person, because they hold a card, is a user of Schedule 1, regardless of whether they actually use or not.

Jordan: Right, so the purchaser comes running and screaming into court, screaming “My Second Amendment rights have been taken away!” Whenever rights are taken away, whenever constitutionally-conferred rights are taken away from an individual in this country, the court looks at that with what’s called a “Standard of Review,” which can be kind of like, “Does the law that takes it away, is it somewhat reasonable?” There are different levels of scrutiny there, there’s something called “Strict Scrutiny” that says it has to be … Absolutely, the law has to be narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling purpose, and that’s not really what they said here.

They instead looked at something called “Intermediate Scrutiny,” which is essentially just, “Is the law generally able to fulfill this important, not narrowly tailored to fulfill a compelling interest, but just kind of somewhat tailored to fulfill an important interest …” It’s kind of a weird distinction. You’re the Con Law scholar …

Jonathan: Right, and the woman thought she was going to come in here and expand gun rights; that’s what she really was trying to do, was expand gun rights, and the Court did a 180 on her, and actually shot her in the foot, so to speak …

Jordan: The Court came back and said, “Listen: This thing that the ATF has done, and this thing that the Federal Government has done, is basically okay … It’s only moderately restrictive, because guess what, young woman? You can actually go, shred that Medical Marijuana Card, and then go out and get a gun. It’s not like we’re totally taking away your Second Amendment rights, here; we’re just saying that, if you have a Medical Marijuana Card, you can’t get a gun … But you can get rid of the card, or you can purchase a gun in September, and get a Medical Marijuana Card in October …” You know what I mean?

That’s how the Court looked at it, and they said, “It’s not extremely restrictive; it’s not like we’re saying ‘women can’t purchase guns ever,’” because then it’s like … The woman’s like, “Well, I can’t change who I am,” you know what I mean? This is more … The government’s like, “Listen, this job is somewhat generally tailored towards this objective,” but the real issue here, and the thing I was referencing, and I think the last point that we’ll make here is, the plaintiff’s attorney, the attorney who was representing the young woman, really missed an opportunity to shove a bunch of evidence in front of the court, saying “Things have changed with marijuana since the 1980’s.”

They didn’t present any evidence to show that most of the users of medical marijuana are legit, low-crime, oftentimes high-demographic, socioeconomically speaking, way less likely to commit crimes, oftentimes … The typical example would be your 85-year-old grandmother who is using medicinal marijuana because she has glaucoma. The plaintiff failed to make all of these arguments, and unfortunately, that probably resulted in the door being slammed shut on this situation, and who knows when the Court will bring it back up for review.

Jonathan: That’s the interesting last note, is that we have what? Twenty-five or so states that allow Medical Marijuana use. Again, this Ninth Circuit decision only applies to the nine states in the Ninth Circuit, so theoretically, one of the states that’s not in the Ninth Circuit, you could have a similar case come up in the Sixth Circuit …

Jordan: In that case, hopefully, the attorney would bring forth the mountain of evidence that has justified the use of Medical Marijuana in nearly half the states, and basically use that to have a more robust conversation. What happened here was, the attorney didn’t offer the evidence, so the Court just kind of said, “Okay, well, they’re not offering any evidence here; we’re just going to accept the notions and assumptions we have about drugs, based on studies from the 1980’s, which notions and assumptions have been drastically altered through study, and usage, and things of that nature.

Kind of interesting …

Jonathan: Totally. If you live here in one of the nine states in the Ninth Circuit, and you hold a Medical Marijuana Card, and you want to go and purchase a handgun, now you have a decision: If you want to keep your Medical Marijuana Card, you get no gun; if you want a gun, you’ve got to get rid of your Medical Marijuana Card. That’s the state of law right now in these nine states.

Jordan: Right. As we always say to close these things out, we are very interested in your opinions on Medical Marijuana, and Gun Control, and especially this case. I think that, on our blog, we’ll have a link to the decision. Feel free to hit us up on Twitter, or our blog, or Facebook, and let us know what your thoughts are on this.

Thanks so much for joining us for ClearCast.

 

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. because we care!
2. Come on, get it together
3. p. 12
4. or even in the state of Nevada
5. If they would have decided for Ms. Wilson, they could have sent the case back to Nevada district court to have the evidence issues fully litigated. Ms. Wilson was never even given a chance for a trial. Her claim was dismissed even before the summary judgment phase.
6. You do you!
7. in English, yes, but this is the law
8. I know; contain yourself
9. You are not the only person asking, wait, what is this? I will explain because we are all about empowering you. Most everyone is familiar with the ‘Separation of Powers’ under our Constitution. The legislature writes the laws, the executive enforces the law, the judicial branch evaluates. It is not practical for the legislature to write out every detail of new laws, so often the rule making (that is, how the law will be put into effect. For example, the legislature will say “No drug users can buy guns,” but how that law is enforced (will the federal government assign an agent to every gun store? Maybe an open letter would be more efficacious) will be assigned to the appropriate executive department, in this case the ATF.
10. Remember as you read, people classified as an “unlawful user” may not buy a gun in Nevada
11. source
12. Doubtful, we want to be having a function vs. essence discussion with legal code
13. Must have left it in the sandbox again..darn
14. It’s “not limited to…within a matter of days or weeks before”
15. Did they really split the infinitive? Oy.
16. That’s how it’s done Ron Darling
17. In theory, I’m not against this
18. I can see both sides
19. the link in the opinion is broken
20. Apparently “dog” is a defense?
21. This is has been a horrific Summer for fans of conservative jurisprudence [and I’m not talking about North Carolina, that nonsense isn’t conservative, it’s just racist partisanship], or at least as the media describes it. Recall the reproductive rights case handed down by the SCOTUS a few weeks ago? They essentially cemented access to an abortion as a fundamental right. It seems, from afar, that the conservative strategy to undermine abortion was to distinguish away the rights in small phases. For example, see the difference between the rights articulated in Roe v. Wade verses Planned Parenthood v. Casey. In this year’s Texas case, the anti-abortion folks got a little too overzealous, and decided to run that Texas law (requiring abortion clinics to have all the same medical equipment as a hospital, without justification [except that they don’t like abortion, which doesn’t count]) all the way up the chain. Instead of getting the abortion prohibition [which always seemed unlikely], the Supreme Court drew a bright line for how far abortion restrictions can go. The court would have never commented on abortion without prompting; now, (from my humble perspective) they will need a constitutional amendment to outlaw abortion.

I see something similar here. It seems absurd that a medical condition would prevent someone from buying a gun; so the lawyer here thought he was onto something. However, these constitutional challenges are not free (literally in terms of cost, but also in terms of political risk) because you are at risk of a judge taking your facts and making the law he wants. This means if you are going to bring a constitutional challenge, especially because it affects everyone, you have a duty to argue this case correctly. I agree with my employers, the lawyer here made a huge error of omission of not questioning the government’s assertions that medical marijuana has no medicinal value and/or medical marijuana users are more inclined to be violent. We, as Nevadans, would be better off if they would have never brought this legal challenge. Please don’t challenge constitutional law if you are unable to/won’t prepare sufficiently. It affects all of us.

22. Yes, I just did that
23. pp 18-19
24. sorry
25. This is only my opinion
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