Medical marijuana use and gun ownership is a dangerous combination, according to a recent federal court decision. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a federal ban on gun sales to medical marijuana card holders. This raises important issues for Floridians who will be voting on the medical marijuana amendment in November. The court stated that the government has a “substantial interest in preventing gun violence,” and that “it is beyond dispute that illegal drug users, including marijuana users, are likely to experience altered or impaired mental states that affect their judgment, and can lead to irrational or unpredictable behavior.”
The proposed 2016 Florida Medical Marijuana amendment now includes Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a “debilitating condition” that would permit legal marijuana use. PTSD is a complex mental disorder caused by either direct or indirect exposure to an intense traumatic experience resulting in continued high levels of dysfunction. Symptoms can include distorted thinking, emotional instability, flashbacks, hyper vigilance, and aggressive or self destructive behaviors. The only safe and effective treatment for it involves comprehensive assessment and treatment by mental health professionals. The American Psychiatric Association has stated that marijuana can actually intensify existing psychiatric illness in vulnerable individuals because of its unpredictable effect on the brain and behavior.
We are all painfully aware of the tragedies that have occurred with guns used by people with severe mental health problems. We understand that such people need professional help, not easy access to a lethal weapon, and a street drug that can significantly increase their confused thinking and irrational behavior. The citizens of Florida need to recognize the danger that marijuana poses to everyone, and reject the legalization of “medical marijuana” in November.