Second Amendment

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director September 28, 2011

    The federal government, notably under the current administration, continues to paint itself into a corner politically speaking regarding Mr. Obama’s pre-election promises to ‘fix the problem with medical marijuana’.

    The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) issued a memorandum on September 21 to all gun dealers in the United States for the expressed purpose of informing them that they MUST discriminate against lawful medical cannabis patients and DENY them their Second Amendment right to buy and possess a firearm for hunting and/or personal protection.

    The feds newest ‘clarifying’ memo regarding medical cannabis (proceeding the 2009 Ogden and 2011 Cole memos) is notable because members of NORML’s Legal Committee recently have been successfully challenging local and state law enforcement officials who’ve chosen to discriminate against lawful medical cannabis patients by denying them permits for a concealed weapon.

    Why is it OK and does it make any sense at all for lawful medical patients who are prescribed powerful painkillers and sedatives to be able to enjoy their Second Amendment rights and responsibilities, but medical cannabis patients who want to hunt or have self-protection in their homes are overtly discriminated against by our own federal government?

    This new ATF memo will provide an interesting test to see if the National Rifle Association really does support citizens’ rights to bear arms.

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director May 19, 2011

    Great news today from Oregon’s Supreme Court (as compared to SCOTUS!) regarding personal responsibility and liberty in ruling for a medical cannabis patient who was denied their full Second Amendment rights simply because they use cannabis.

    The case was largely championed by NORML Legal Committee member and Amicus chair Leland Berger of Portland and from legal counsel from the National Rifle Association.

    Mr. Berger’s remarks are found below announcing the case today on NORML’s network. The decision can be read here.

    “To conclude: the sheriffs in this case are not excused from their duty under ORS 166.291(1) to issue CHLs to qualified applicants, without regard to the applicant’s use of medical marijuana, on the ground that issuance of CHLs to medical marijuana users would violate a federal prohibition on making false statements about the lawfulness of transferring firearms to such persons. Neither are the sheriffs excused from that statutory duty on the ground that it is preempted by federal law. The sheriffs were without authority to deny petitioner’s CHL applications.”

    Full text of unanimous opinion, authored by the chief, issued 77 days after oral argument online here:


    Many thanks to John Lucy, who has forgotten more obscure gun law (and facts) than I ever knew, to OPDS Appellate Section for meeting with John and I pre-argument for a discussion of potential questions, to Adelia Hwang for researching federal legislative history of the federal guncontrol act and to Kristin Stankiewicz for her research assistance onother issues; to Alan Silber of Roseland NJ for developing a judicialestoppel argument and to Bill Panzer of Oakland, CA for explaining it to me.

    But mostly I am grateful for the courage of medical cannabis patients Paul Sansone, Steven Schwerdt, Eli Wallick and Cynthia Willis for standing up to the lawless Sheriffs of Washington and Jackson Counties, here in Oregon.


    Lee Berger, Portland, OR

    Associated Press coverage of the case is found here.