Will Texans give up gun rights to get medical marijuana? Federal government says they have to
For years, Joshua Raines has been using marijuana illegally to treat the epilepsy and PTSD he developed during his five years in the Army. His diagnosis was set off after suffering a traumatic brain injury during a bomb explosion while in Afghanistan.
Raines, 31, has been eligible for a legal prescription of medical marijuana since 2015, when Texas lawmakers approved the Compassionate Use Program for patients with intractable epilepsy.
But Raines, who lives in Springtown, about an hour west of Dallas, has resisted seeking out a prescription. If he did, the veteran and Purple Heart recipient would give up his right to purchase a gun.
“Why am I going to give up one of my rights because I found an organic plant that some are uncomfortable with?” he said. “I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to trade my rights like baseball cards.”
Across the country, states have incrementally embraced legalizing medical marijuana despite its federal classification as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. Federal law enforcement has largely looked the other way, deferring to state legislatures when it comes to medical cannabis — but not when it comes to guns, which are illegal to buy under federal law if you use marijuana.
And nowhere does this hit harder than gun-loving Texas, where advocates like Raines lined up to call for expanding the list of conditions eligible for medical marijuana during the legislative session but are now thinking twice about whether they’re willing to give up their ability to purchase a firearm.
“To tell Texans you can’t purchase a firearm if you have a compassionate use card is unconscionable,” said Rachel Malone, Texas director for Gun Owners of America. “We should not force people to choose between gun ownership and taking care of themselves…”