South Carolina Compassionate Care Act Database Will Affect Gun Rights of The Uninformed

The South Carolina Senate is considering S. 150, the South Carolina Compassionate Care Act. A bill that would permit the sale of cannabis products under specified conditions.   Although several states have enacted legislation permitting the use of marijuana, the use, possession, and distribution of the substance remain a violation of federal law. Therefore, the issue presents an unavoidable conflict between state and federal law.

To purchase a firearm from a federally licensed dealer, an individual must complete Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) Form 4473.  This form asks if you are an “unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana.” The form includes a warning that the recreational and medical use of cannabis under state law does not alter the federal Controlled Substances Act which makes it illegal to possess, manufacture, or distribute marijuana. It is a separate crime to lie about your marijuana use on the form.  (Note that an individual may be subject to heightened criminal penalties if found in possession of a firearm and marijuana at the same time.

S. 150 requires a person to obtain a card to obtain marijuana under the terms of the proposed law.  The problem of conflicting state and federal law arises here.

A registry of these cards may easily be compared to an application for the purchase of a firearm, for example, and therein lies a serious legal problem for anyone unaware of the conflict.  This conflict between state and federal law will also create issues for those holding a federal CDL license and possibly other licenses as well.

The existence of a registry, or even a state-issued card without a registry, could be used as evidence of illegal drug use. Such evidence would cut against the Second Amendment rights of those who attempt to follow state law to the consternation of federal law. It is this conflict in the interaction of state and Federal law that would-be-registrants should know. 

We readily acknowledge that a registry or card issuance system would not change who is a prohibited person, but it would make it easier for the Federal Government to prove that a person is prohibited. If the State disagrees with the Federal Government that marijuana use is inherently bad, then the state should take pains to prevent those who chose to follow state law from being punished for the same by the stripping of their constitutional rights. 

Said another way, the State should not make it easy on the Federal Government to enforce a bad law.  "There is nothing more inefficient as making efficient that which should not be done at all."

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