District Judge Finds Gun Ban for Marijuana Users Unconstitutional
On Friday, U.S. District Judge Patrick R. Wyrick dismissed an indictment against Jared Michael Harrison, holding that the statute relied upon to ban gun ownership by marijuana users is “unconstitutionally vague, in violation of the Due Process Clause, and unconstitutionally infringes upon his fundamental right to possess a firearm, in violation of the Second Amendment.”
Harrison was indicated by a federal grand jury on August 17, 2022, for possessing a firearm while being an “unlawful user of marijuana,” with 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(3) being relied upon in the indictment.
Statute 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(3) bans firearm possession for anyone “who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act).”
Wyrick weighed the indictment in light of the Supreme Court Bruen (2022) decision, as Harrison contended that he had a right to possess a firearm and that 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(3) “infringed on that right.”
Section 922(g)(3) does not have deep roots; it wasn’t enacted by Congress until the Gun Control Act of 1968. The statute initially prohibited any individual who was “an unlawful user of or addicted to marihuana or any depressant or stimulant drug . . . or narcotic drug” from receiving a firearm, but it was amended in 1986 to broadly prohibit the receipt or possession of a firearm by any person who “is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802)).” In its modern form, § 922(g)(3) thus strips a person of their fundamental right to possess a firearm the instant the person becomes an “unlawful user” of marijuana. And in the United States’ view, all users of marijuana are “unlawful users.”
In applying Bruen, Wyrick pointed out: “The question here is thus whether stripping someone of their right to possess a firearm solely because they use marijuana is consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation. If it is not, then § 922(g)(3) cannot be constitutionally applied to Harrison—no matter the reasonableness of the policy it embodies.”
Wyrick concluded that “18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(3) violates Harrison’s Second Amendment right to possess a firearm,” and the motion to dismiss Harrison’s indictment was granted.
The case is United States v. Harrison, No. CR-22-00328-PRW in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma.