The Justice Department is appealing a ruling issued by a federal judge last month, United States of America v. James Michael Harrison, that struck down a longstanding federal law prohibiting marijuana users from possessing firearms.
In early February, a federal judge for the US District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma determined that the 1968 law was unconstitutional.
The judge determined: “[T]he mere use of marijuana carries none of the characteristics that the Nation’s history and tradition of firearms regulation supports. The use of marijuana — which can be bought legally (under state law) at more than 2,000 ordinary store fronts in Oklahoma — is not in and of itself a violent, forceful, or threatening act. It is not a ‘crime of violence.’ Nor does it involve ‘the actual use or threatened use of force.’”
On Friday, the Justice Department announced that it was appealing the ruling in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.
In 2016, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the federal government’s interpretation of the law. Justices opined that the ban “furthers the Government’s interest in preventing gun violence” because marijuana users “are more likely to be involved in violent crimes.”