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Erie senator wants to open gun ownership to medical marijuana users

Sen. Dan Laughlin, R-Erie, is pictured during an appearance in Erie earlier this year.

A state senator from Erie wants to change state law to allow medical marijuana users to own firearms in Pennsylvania.

Sen. Daniel Laughlin, R-Erie, is circulating a co-sponsorship memorandum to amend the commonwealth’s Uniform Firearms Act to conform with the legalization of medical marijuana in Pennsylvania.

In 2016, the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act was enacted allowing individuals to legally treat specific medical conditions with marijuana. Since enactment, many laws have been updated to include the lawful use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, though a license to carry a firearm will not be issued to an individual that is considered to be an unlawful marijuana user.

“My legislation will make sure a valid medical marijuana cardholder is no longer considered an unlawful marijuana user,” said Laughlin. “Although marijuana remains illegal under federal law, we should be updating Pennsylvania’s laws to ensure valid medical marijuana cardholders are not denied their rights.”

While not mentioned by name, Laughlin’s proposal comes mere weeks after Rob Greene, Warren County district attorney, and the Second Amendment Foundation sued U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and the directors of the FBI and ATF over Greene’s inability to own firearms as a medical marijuana card holder. Greene plans to step down as district attorney at the end of his term to pursue marijuana advocacy full-time.

“I find it to be unfathomable that Republicans are against freedom on this issue,” Greene told the Times Observer earlier this year. “They’ve taken my Second Amendment rights because I want to use a cannabis plant to help me – for my health, wellness and enjoyment of life. There are some Republicans that think I should be in jail because of that? How is that freedom? As a cannabis user, I’m in the minority but my rights should be protected.”

If approved, Laughlin’s bill would allow someone like Greene to legally carry a firearm and medical marijuana card in Pennsylvania, though federal law would mean medical marijuana card holders would not be allowed to carry a firearm legally outside the state – something Laughlin mentioned in his legislative memorandum.

“Although marijuana continues to remain illegal under federal law, we should move forward updating our current laws within Pennsylvania,” he wrote. “A valid medical marijuana cardholder should not be considered an unlawful user and denied their rights.”

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