Nikki Fried defends gun rights of medical marijuana users in lawsuit against Biden admin: ‘Discriminatory’
Nikki Fried, Florida’s commissioner of agriculture and a Democratic gubernatorial candidate, is suing the Biden administration in an effort to block a federal rule that prohibits medical marijuana users from buying firearms or obtaining a concealed weapons permit.
Fried filed the lawsuit Wednesday against the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), arguing that the government’s “irrational, inconsistent, and incoherent federal marijuana policy undermines Florida’s medical marijuana and firearms laws.”
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The lawsuit argues that Floridians who legally participate in the state’s medical marijuana program are having their Second Amendment rights violated.
“These laws are a complete conflict between what’s happening at the state level and what’s happening in the federal government,” Fried told Fox News Digital in an interview. “People across our country understand that somebody shouldn’t be denied access to a firearm simply because they’ve chosen to use medical cannabis. That is discriminatory on its face for marijuana patients, and this is something that needs to be changed at the federal level.”
Nikki Fried, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and a Democratic candidate for 2022 Florida gubernatorial race, arrives for a ceremony with U.S. President Joe Biden.
( Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
The lawsuit targets an ATF form that is given to potential gun buyers that asks, “Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug or any other controlled substance?” The form then says, “Warning: the use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under Federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medicinal or recreational purposes in the state where you reside.” Prospective gun buyers who answer, “yes,” are then blocked from making the purchase.
Fried, who is seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination to run against Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in November, said it wasn’t her “intention” to go after a Democratic administration in the middle of an election year but that the lawsuit had “been in the works for years” and just happened to be recently finalized.
Jim Castetter, Chief Sales Officer of Empire Standard, a hemp extract processing and distribution plant, weighs hemp flowers on a scale on April 13, 2021 in Binghamton, New York.
“I’m going to stand up for people’s rights regardless of who’s in the White House,” she said. “We need to move forward as a country. It’s certainly was not my intention to sue a fellow Democrat, but it’s something that needs to be moved.”
Fried also said gun-control advocates need not worry about her lawsuit because it would actually “create more safety.”
“We know that if somebody is purchasing a firearm through, whether it’s a store, a pawn shop, wherever you’re purchasing your firearm from, you have to fill out the ATF form, which means you have a federal background check,” she said. “And so what’s happening is that some users are going around and buying it in private sales or going through other loopholes.”
“So this actually create more safety for our country and for our state, because now people will be able to legally purchase firearms, get the background check to make sure that they’re qualified to purchase a firearm,” she said.
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Fried said her ultimate goal is to see marijuana legalized at the federal level.
“It’s time for our country to finally put marijuana behind us and to legalize,” she said.
Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, Feb. 24, 2022.
While Fried has been critical of DeSantis’ stance on marijuana, the governor’s office signaled support for her lawsuit in a statement provided to Fox News Digital.
“We have not had a chance to review the lawsuit, so we won’t comment on specifics,” DeSantis spokeswoman Christina Pushaw said. “But, on principle: Gov. DeSantis has always stood for protecting Floridians’ constitutional rights — including Second Amendment rights. Floridians should not be deprived of their constitutional rights just because they use a medication in accordance with the laws of our state.”