By: Robert Davis
The Colorado State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee has killed a bill that would have restored Second Amendment rights to people who use medical marijuana.
Rep. Bri Buentello (D- El Paso) and Sen. Vicki Marble (R-Weld) co-sponsored the legislation and introduced it in late January. The committee voted down SB 93 along party lines by a 3-2 margin last week.
“Should someone lose their concealed carry license just because they have a medical marijuana card?” Marble asked the committee. “No, they really shouldn’t, as should no person under the guidance and supervision of a doctor lose any rights whatsoever.”
The bill was designed to address a discrepancy in the current law that allows Colorado sheriffs to deny a concealed carry permit to medical marijuana users since marijuana is still federally illegal.
Under Colorado Revised Statute 18-12-203, a sheriff can deny a concealed carry application if someone is a user of a controlled substance or “chronically and habitually use[s] alcoholic beverages to the extent that the applicant's normal faculties are impaired.”
Controlled substances are defined under CRS 18-18-102, in which marijuana is generally still listed. But, (6)(b)(II) of the definition says it doesn’t apply to “a substance for which there is an approved drug application, so long as such substance is in its intended and unconverted form.”
This discrepancy has allowed law enforcement agencies to discriminate against medical marijuana users and take away their Second Amendment rights, Buentello argues.
“Medical marijuana users should be allowed to enjoy the same civil liberties as healthy citizens,” Buentello told Gunpowder Magazine. “They should have the same rights as any other patient receiving medical treatment for a condition.”
But, members of the Democrat-controlled committee disagreed with Buentello and Marble. Specifically, Chairman Mike Foote (D-Boulder) took umbrage with how he understood the bill to create two separate classes for controlled substance users.
“Essentially, you would have a category of medical marijuana patients who could have their permit accepted, while other users of painkillers would be denied,” Foote said during the hearing.
Marble countered his argument by asking why people should risk losing their gun rights for exercising their right to a healthcare option that is legal in the state, but is still stigmatized.
“No one has died from medical marijuana, but lots of people have died from other schedule 2 or schedule 1 drugs,” she said.
Robert Davis is a general assignment reporter for Gunpowder Magazine. You can contact him via email at RobertDavis0414@gmail.com or on Twitter at @Davisonthebeat.