S. Rowan Wilson, a healthcare worker from Carson City, was refused the opportunity to buy a firearm by a gun store owner because she is a medical marijuana cardholder. Nevada state law allows its residents to buy marijuana for medical reasons, but federal law still considers marijuana a controlled substance and prohibits the sale of firearms to users of the drug. Ms. Wilson is suing the federal government for breach of her constitutional right to bear arms.
The second amendment of the U.S. Constitution affords citizens the right to bear arms. However, federal gun control laws restrict this right, barring the sale of a firearm to a person that the seller has reasonable cause to believe is an unlawful user or addict of a controlled substance, including marijuana. The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) had issued guidance to all gun stores that holders of medical marijuana cards should be treated as marijuana users, and are therefore barred from owning a firearm.
As in numerous other states, Nevada’s position towards medical marijuana is at odds with federal law’s treatment of marijuana. In Ms. Wilson’s case, she argues that her medical marijuana usage should not be treated as unlawful, as she uses it lawfully within Nevada. As a result, she asserts, her constitutional right to bear arms has been unfairly and unlawfully infringed upon. Whether the court agrees with her view remains to be seen.