Medical Marijuana and the Second Amendment

Redding resident and Army veteran Sean Merritt says he’s been denied the right to purchase a firearm at a local gun shop owned by Redding Mayor Patrick Jones. The sticking point hinges on a line on a form required by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, which asks: “Are you an unlawful user of or addicted to marijuana, a depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?”

Because he uses medical marijuana (and even though he has a legal recommendation), Merritt says he was told by Jones that he must answer “yes” on the form, which prevents him from purchasing a firearm at Jones Fort, a popular gun and pawn shop.

At last night’s City Council meeting, Merritt argued his case before the mayor. Here’s the compelling video of his appearance before the council:

When he inquired about purchasing a firearm at Jones Fort, Merritt said he wanted to make sure the drugs he was on wouldn’t prohibit him.

“They had no problem with the morphine or the klonopin, but when I said ‘medical marijuana’ (the employee) said, ‘You will not be able to purchase a firearm because you will fail the background check with the FBI,’ ” Merritt said. “I said, ‘That’s impossible because my records are confidential and if the FBI wanted them, the person who gave them up would be the one to answer for breaking my confidentiality. Not only that but President Obama has given the power to the states on the medical marijuana issue.”

is a journalist who focuses on arts, entertainment, music and the outdoors. He is a songwriter and leader of the Jim Dyar Band. He lives in Redding and can be reached at
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65 Responses

  1. Avatar Dustin says:

    I wondered when this was going to come up……

  2. Avatar Susan Daugherty says:

    Oh, Bravo, Mr. Merritt, well done. I'm sure other towns will have similar issues, but when the Mayor owns the gun shop in question, it makes for an even more compelling story.

    • Avatar Spc Sean Merritt says:

      thank you.And thank you, jim, for putting this story up.It is my belief that the Mayor may be wearing one too many hats and that the two may conflict with each other. He votes no against all the ordinances yet denies a vet because he's a patient. Stop flip flopping, sir, and stop the discrimination against us legitimate medical marijuana users.

      • Avatar ElleBough says:

        Thank you for being a voice for medical marijuana patients. The more exposure people get to the facts, the more they will realize that medical marijuana has a relevant place in our society. Drugs like morphine, klonapin, and oxycontin do not facilitate a functional life while medical marijuana does. I'm sorry you are in such an amount of pain that drugs are even necessary. And thatk you for your service to our country.

      • Avatar Jim Swanson says:


        Jim here from Progressive News Radio.

        I lost your email address and phone number and wanted

        to get in touch to see how you are doing. My email is

        swansonjim(at)sbcglobal(dot) net.

        Hope I hear from ya soon.

        Jim Swanson

  3. Avatar Joel Stratte-McClure says:

    Who elects jokers like Jones to serve the people?

  4. Avatar natefrogg says:

    morphine and klonopin were okay though?

    this is what doesn't make any sense about our drug laws

  5. Avatar Michael Allison says:

    If you smoke marijuana, you'll start liking jazz. Watch out!!

  6. Avatar Ed Nowlin says:

    Sorry, but I have a real problem with anybody on any drug that affects judgement from being in possession of a firearm while on that drug, and Marijuana falls under that category. There are laws that say you cannot be in possession of a firearm while under the influence of alcohol, even if you are licensed for carry concealed, so why should any kind of drug (Legal or Illegal) be any different?

    As far as this story is concerned, Mr. Jones has no choice in this matter, regardless of his personal feelings on the manner, the feds make the rules regarding the sales of firearms and of those rules require you answer the question: "Are you an unlawful user of or addicted to marijuana, a depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance" Folks, any prescription medication is a controlled substance, because you have to have a prescription to obtain it! That means if you have an addiction to morphine, even if you became addicted while being prescribed that drug and are still using it legally or illegally, you have to declare it and odds are good the FBI/DOJ will deny your application and more importantly, the fees for the background you pay for at time of sale are forfeit.

    Sounds to me Mr. Jones was just trying to save this guy some money knowing that under current law, his app would be denied. In this case, its damned if you do and damned if you don't…because you know that someone who applied and got denied because of MM would be complaining how they were never told by the salespeople that it would be a dis-qualifier.

    • Avatar Spc Sean D Merritt says:

      If thats the case : depressants= alcohol, migraine and seizure meds, antihistamines, muscle relaxers, cough medicine

      stimulants= coffee, cigarettes etc

      so then by your logic anyone who drinks coffee, smokes cigarettes, uses antihistamines or cough medicine shouldn't be able to possess a firearm either. Why not just throw out the right to bear arms then.I'm sure the founding fathers would have supported that one Pffft.

      • Avatar Ed Nowlin says:

        Good attempt to twist my words there…

        Some of the things you named do indeed impair judgment and therefore, impair safe handling of a firearm. As far as the coffee, cigarettes, etc. Read again what the statement says: "Are you an unlawful user of or addicted to marijuana, a depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance”. Carefully read the last part…OR ANY OTHER CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE. This implies that the statement is referring to any controlled depressant, stimulant, or narcotic drug (BTW, Morphine is a narcotic in case you didn't know). By controlled, it would be safe to presume this means any prescription depressant, stimulant or narcotic as well as any other controlled substance (Such as hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD). Something I made very clear in my initial response. Since most coffee, cough medicine and antihistimines are sold over the counter and are therefore not controlled, nor is it unlawful to possess or use these items without a prescription and cigarettes are only controlled as far as how old you have to be to purchase them (18 to buy smokes, 21 to buy a pistol), those really don't apply now do they?

        In short, I'm sure the founding fathers didn't intend for anybody hopped up or drugged out too much to not be able to judge their actions to be in possession of firearms either, so your argument is moot. The only reason I can see you making such a fuss is because you have a 'script for Medical Marijuana and as a result, the feds (Which still has Marijuana on the books as illegal to possess under any circumstances whatsoever) won't let you own a firearm. How do you feel about the DMV denying people a license because their condition makes it unsafe to allow them to drive, not only for themselves but for others? People afflicted with epilepsy who cannot show their seizures controlled by medication can't get a license, nor can people arrested for multiple DUI's, because they can't control their drinking.

        Gun ownership is a right, according to the second amendment, but honestly, if you allow for one exemption, you have to allow for all and the thought of someone hopped up on crack or LSD being able to own a gun terrifies me.

        • Avatar Spc Sean D Merritt says:

          I have sir several times.It is you who should re read it

          "Are you an unlawful user of or addicted to marijuana, a depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance”

          or addicted to…now that can mean do you drink 15 cups of coffee a day.Do you smoke 3 packs a day.They need to be more defined as just saying stimulants or depressants carries many different things.And yes i know morphine is a depressant i've only been on them for 4 or 5 years and can tell you just how depressed they will make you.Obviously you have never had to deal with illness in your life.Consider yourself fortunate.A drug is a drug is a drug and marijuana is probably the most safe, just because your still under the reefer madness hysteria doesn't mean we all are

          "Since most coffee, cough medicine and antihistamines are sold over the counter and are therefore not controlled, nor is it unlawful to possess or use these items without a prescription"

          You know what my medial cannibus is sold over the counter as well because i am a valid card holder.I guess you know more than the Attorney General about how the law works though.Maybe you should run for office then you could rob everyone of their freedoms and kick sick people further down into the muck.Wait their already doing that guess you'll have to stick to being a keyboard cowboy

          Your DMV argument holds no water.There is a difference between someone driving a 2000lbs killing machine who is unfit and someone who just wants to protect their home.Again you must be very fortunate to have never been jumped or attempted to be robbed because you look like an easy target.

          "In short, I’m sure the founding fathers didn’t intend for anybody hopped up or drugged out too much to not be able to judge their actions to be in possession of firearms either"

          Uh in case you didn't know the founding fathers all grew hemp.And in my home state of VA during the 17th and 18th century you could actually be jailed for refusing to grow hemp.Why don't you go study history then get back to me

          we can agree on one thing.Gun ownership is a right but i didn't choose to be on these pills the Veterans Admin wants me on six types like i explained in the vid.I now only take two and use my cannibus.So am i to be denied the right to protect my self and my home because of what i choose to do to treat my illness?In case you didn't know this is America.Land of the free.Your control everything demeanor would probably go over better in some communist country.I like the freedoms i swore to defend maybe if you got out and served in some capacity you would see and feel the need to fight for those less fortunate than yourself.

        • Avatar Julie says:

          I have to agree with you regarding why the laws are there and what they mean, also the point you made regarding making an exemption for one then it would have to be for all. I am all for protecting our second amendment rights, I own many guns and have a concealed weapons permit in the state of california, I also know a lot of people who smoke as well as cultivate marijuana, and as much as I care for them, and trust them I would never trust them with a loaded weapon high on any form of controlled substance or drunk. I understand the need for the legal use of marijuana for medical reason, and I think that clarifying the laws between state and federal is a must. But the fact is as long as the ATF considers marijuana a controlled substance, it will always be illegal to legally own a weapon while using it. And I know there are people who use marijuana that would never operate a gun while under the influence of it, just like I would never operate mine after drinking, but untill this issue is clarified all the bickering in the world won't help. Also where I live there are many incidents of accidental shootings related to marijuana cultivation. Despite the fact its mainly done legally and for personal use there are those out there that will always point out the ones growing it to make a profit, and thats where people are going to point out people under the influence of marijuana should not have rights to a weapon. It is a right, and maybe you should consider not smoking or having a license if getting a weapon is that important to you.

    • Avatar Sam Adams says:

      Mr. Nowlin needs to abstain from talking about things with which he has little or no understanding. I take large amounts of morphine for persistent migraine headache. There is no "high", there is no impaired judgment. When I passed my CCW shooting test, I was on morphine. I received the highest score in a class of 22. I'll challenge Mr. Nowlin to any kind of alertness, response or coordination test that he wants to suggest. I predict I can do better on any of them than he can. I truly dislike people that try to restrict others from exercising their rights based on ingnorance.

      • Avatar Robert says:

        Sam Adams:

        Sorry about your migraines. A good friend of mine takes morphine for migraines. It's a horrible condition that wipes him out for days. We both work in the IT industry and I've been on several business trips with him to see customers. There have been times where he couldn't leave his hotel room for 2 or 3 days at a time while the headaches work their evil.

        Relating back to this discussion: it's difficult for people who are healthy to understand what it's like to be chronically ill. I would be understanding of Ed Nowlin's position, and the ignorance it displays, if he weren't so judgmental. Fortunately for him, he has good people like yourself, who are concerned about his rights and freedoms, regardless of his self-rightousness and uninformed positions.


  7. Avatar clitav says:

    Isn't the key wording here "illegal"substance? It is not illegal to use MMJ with a recommendation, only if you are wrangling it ala carte off the street w/o a scrip!

    • Avatar Spc Sean D Merritt says:

      your exactly right clitav.And guess what the Attorney General of our great state agrees.

      • Avatar Cannalawyer says:

        The California courts have ruled that Med MJ under Dr. note is to be treated same as a prescription drug under Dr. prescription and further this issue was litigated in Oregon which found in favor of med mj patients and their rights to get conceal carry permits –

        • Avatar Ed Nowlin says:

          Apples and Oranges comparison.

          Concealed Carry is handled by the local and state entities, gun purchasing is federal.

    • Avatar Ed Nowlin says:

      It isn't illegal to possess a prescription drug with a prescription either, but that doesn't make it any safer for you or those around you if you have a firearm in your possession or near your possession while under the influence, especially if you have an addiction.

      And according to federal law (which also governs the purchase and sale of firearms), Marijuana is still illegal to possess under any circumstances, regardless if they are enforcing it or not.

      You want to change the laws, write your congressman and senators in DC.

      • Avatar Spc Sean D Merritt says:

        Wrong again.Under Obama's new policy states that have medical marijuana laws in place are now protected

        So how about you actually learn the law before you pretend to come in here and talk like you know it

        • Avatar Ed Nowlin says:

          No sir, you are incorrect.

          All the article you cited states (And since it is a press release from the ACLU, your mileage may vary as far as their interpretation), is that the Supreme Court of the United States declined to hear argument. It has nothing to do with the Obama Administration's current policy regarding marijuana, or have you forgotten about separation of powers?

          Just because SCOTUS declined to hear the case doesn't mean that you are right. I stand by my comment that while it may be legal in CA to possess MMJ, it is still illegal under federal law, and even the article referenced says that:

          "…despite the federal prohibition on marijuana."

          Remember the letter Redding Police Chief Hansen sent to all the collectives reminding them that even though its legal in CA, federal law doesn't recognize MMJ and they could potentially be criminally liable under federal law?

          Yeah, I guess Chief Hansen doesn't know the law either.

          Oh, and in response to your other argument about out-shooting me….I have little doubt you could, given your military training far exceeds my training, which people should also consider given your bravado at your claim of acing your CCW firearms training. All I have is PC 832 Firearms Training, and my requalification shoots I must complete twice a year to retain my exposed firearms permit from the State of California.

          In any event, your going to continue to debate regardless how many times I make my point, and you refuse to even accept that your point of view could be completely wrong in this, which makes my wasting more of my time pointless, so I wish you the best of luck in all your future endeavors and conclude my part in this diatribe.

      • Avatar Michael Allison says:

        I think you're right Ed. And anyone who honestly thinks about it would have to agree. Intoxicants and guns dont mix. Duh.

        We can argue about what the problem actually is. Is it the pot, or the easy availability of guns? But, anybody in their right mind would rather not see pot (or any intoxicant,) AND guns in the same room. This goes for cars too, chainsaws, and all potential killing machines.

        • Avatar Sam Adams says:

          The bottle that you drink bear out of is a potential killing machine. The chair you sit in while drinking beer is a potential killing machine. It is against the law to be drunk and in possession of firearms in the public. You home is a whole different story. Do you get rid of all you knives, scissors, automobile before you drink at home just so you don't go crazy and kill someone? I doubt it. It so unfortunate that common sense in this country isn't all to common anymore. We've become a country full of Government dependent, politically correct sissies. If nobody is infringing on your rights, don't infringe on theirs. It's not that hard.

        • Avatar Spc Sean D Merritt says:


          Where did i say i aced firearms training? now your just pulling things out of the air to try and make me look foolish.nice try

          But your right i did make one mistake i posted the wrong link…oops

          heres the one i meant to post

          And don't get me started on chief hansen.He doesn't know medical marijuana law thats proven by the ridiculous meeting he had with all the collective owners.And especially since he said its still illegal under federal law.Read the link above.OBAMA WILL NO LONGER SEEK PUNISHMENT FOR LEGIT MMJ USERS.I'm sure you will find someway to twist this to fit your agenda as now i'm convinced your either a cop or work for this town.But since you brought it up Why not I'd like nothing more than to outshoot you.We can make this interesting 10 targets, you drink a beer before before shooting each target and i'll smoke a bit of my medicine lets see who is the better shot or who can even stand up at the end of it.

    • Avatar Julie says:

      Its not illegal in certain states but the feds don't care they can come in and inforce federal law, and to them legal in the state or not according to our great nations leaders, its a "controlled substance" therefore illegal. and until those laws are are made clear and come to an agreement people are going to continue to fall victim, thinking their legal then getting busted.

  8. Avatar Budd Hodges says:

    It sounds to me like a Jones deal in this transaction has gone south.

    Sean, you picked the wrong gun dealer, hock shop to buy a fire arm from.

    This councilman, "mayor", has been against medical weed from the beginning and anything he can do,in his right wing thinking, he will do to push his right wing agenda on others.

    What a fine example you set for all Mr. Jones. Why in the hell did we elect you?

    And, by the way your state of the city address sucked wind as well.

    • Avatar Spc Sean D Merritt says:

      LOL i kinda did it just to see what would he say.Since he voted everytime against the ordinances he shouldn't have a problem selling a vet a weapon right? I admit my reasons for calling his place we're to dig dirt but only to expose more bad policy on the part of this town council and to expose him as a hypocrite.Looks like ill be doing business at Old West which is fine they have a better selection anyway

  9. Avatar Dianne Sandland says:

    Your story is worth the telling, Sean, so I've published it on the Medical Marijuana Blog. I hope you're okay with that.

    Take care and keep fighting…

  10. Avatar Ouroboros says:

    It's Cannabis for heaven's sake. Reefer madness was fake, if you didn't know, your not going to pull out your gun and shoot people while under the influence of Cannabis. I don't think I've ever read or heard of someone under the influence of just cannabis flipping out and shooting people. Now under the influence of alcohol I've heard of many horror stories.

    "the thought of someone hopped up on crack or LSD being able to own a gun terrifies me." For some reason you don't seem to realize that the only people who would walk into a gun store and properly fill out the forms and wait the waiting period are the people who are following the laws, people hopped up on crack or LSD probably have a gun in their house or on them at the time of intoxication because they bought it off some guy in an alley for cheaper than you can buy a gun in a gunstore.

    Criminals buy the guns regardless of the gun restrictions on the public and for some reason they even get a bad guy discount paying less money than honest people who follow the laws.

    Cannabis is not a dangerous drug it does not cause insanity in its users, it does not cause people to kill their brothers, it does not cause people to turn into raving lunatics or beasts, it doesn't cause people to listen to devil music or white women to sleep with black musicans. You should probably stop listening to William Randolph Hearst and Harry Anslinger.

  11. Avatar SteveInIndiana says:

    Right, wrong; under the influence, not under the influence……….why argue? If the question asked if he used illegal drugs; then why the heck did he say yes? Worse yet, why did he even ASK about the question. If there was a valid doctor recommendation, and MMJ is legal there, then the legal issue is settled. Legal is legal, illegal is illegal. End of story.

    It's pretty sad that Mr Merritt was not smart enough to figure out if his MJ use was legal or illegal. It's sadder still that he had to ASK someone.

    This is why I don't complain about Indiana's total lack of any agenda to move forward with legislation to consider legalizing medical MJ. Here it is illegal. If I want to work towards getting it legalized for medical use (or recreational) then I raise the issue with my elected representatives. I work to change the law; because bitching about the law doesn't accomplish a thing.

    Obey the law, and if you don't like it, work to change the law. If you don't, no one is going to change the law for you.

    • Avatar Charlie Burns says:

      Perfectly stated.

    • Avatar Chuckm says:

      Indiana you work to change Indiana law your way. but don't bitch about the way we do it in California as we are decades ahead of your state when it comes to drug law reform.. www,

      • Avatar SteveInIndiana says:

        I think California is doing the right thing by MMJ. I wish I lived in California again. I support Merritt and think he was abused by the Mayor.

        • Avatar Spc Sean D Merritt says:

          i was only calling to expose bad policy on the part of the mayor.I believe i've stated that before.Thanks for the support though sir

  12. Avatar Uncle E says:

    Man, I'm starving! Anyone got any Cheetos?

  13. Avatar Diamondback says:

    Neither the FFL dealer nor the Mayor (even if they're the same person) has the right or authority to tell anyone how to answer questions on a 4473, It is quite possible to use MJ for medicinal purposes LEGALLY with a medical MJ card and NOT be addicted. Further, if the product is obtained LEGALLY, it is NOT an ILLEGAL substance. Therefore, were it me, I'd answer NO and dare the Mayor/Proprietor to deny me the right to purchase. If for any reason the FBI denied on that basis, I'd sue.

  14. Avatar JustCurious says:

    Is this FFL dealer/Mayor character also a Lawyer and Physician as well?

  15. Avatar Hal Johnson says:

    Diamondback writes, " Further, if the product is obtained LEGALLY, it is NOT an ILLEGAL substance." Well, not so fast. As so often happens, the law doesn't always dovetail with common sense. Proposition 215 did not make medical marijuana legal. Instead, it granted immunity from prosecution for those users deemed qualified. A medical marijuana patient is thus still in possession of an illegal substance, but should not be prosecuted for possessing it. It may not make sense to most of us, but it's the law.

    Common sense would suggest that it's silly to deny Second Amendment rights to medical marijuana users while allowing users of legal yet potentially more dangerous prescription drugs to buy firearms. Sadly, many folks get caught in the trap of using common sense or a basic view of right and wrong while viewing our legal system, and sometimes, we get hurt.

  16. Avatar Michael Allison says:

    Man, this is a controversial issue!! Look at all the posts!!

    Grow marijuana in your back yard, and give it away to your friends who want, or need it. Then everybody will start listening to jazz, and eating delivered pizza. Nobody will get hurt.

  17. Avatar mclisa says:

    Does the form ask if you own dogs?:

  18. Avatar Tim says:

    I hope they outlaw it completely.

  19. Avatar Hal Johnson says:

    Y'know Tim, I'm not a cannibis user, so I don't have a dog in the hunt. But since my teenage years–I'm 53–I've known a fair number of folks who swear by MJ for its pain-relieving qualities. It appears that lots of folks function better while using cannibis medicinally than while using "heavier" prescription drugs. Why would you want to outlaw it completely?

  20. Avatar Hal Johnson says:

    Oh yeah: If I were a user, I could probably spell "cannabis" correctly.

  21. Avatar Daddy's Boy says:

    Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms – A.T.F. is such an ironic trinity.

    As I sit here sipping on a glass of whiskey between hits of nicotine with my trusty pistol at my side I know that it's only a matter of time before I reach that magical moment when I must remember which one doesn't belong in my mouth…

    Papa forgot.

  22. Avatar Spc Sean D Merritt says:

    Thanks hal, even though you spelled it wrong also in the above statemet

    "It appears that lots of folks function better while using cannibis"

    we all make mistakes and typos are frequent when people are passionate and trying to get their message out.


    Why outlaw something the people have already voted on to make leal for medical patients.Something which relieves their suffering and gets them out from under the thumb of big farm should be embraced as what it truly is, a real life saving medicine and not a reefer madness type illicit drug

  23. Dugan Barr Dugan Barr says:

    How about some history and perspective, folks? The debate on marijuana has never been rational. Not that many years ago, the law was that giving someone a joint carried the same penalty as selling it. Five years to life, with a minimum time in of 3 years, more than the average time in for someone convicted of second degree murder.

    One of the few witnesses to testify against making it illegal when Congress first debated the Marijuana Tax Act was Mayor LaGuardia of New York. New York had establishments much like bars called Tea Houses. The Mayor told Congress that the primary difference was that the Tea Houses, which sold cannabis, were almost never a police problem like the bars were.

    • Avatar Spc Sean Merritt says:

      I think it would be interesting to see a collective across from a bar here in town allow their patients to use their medicine on site and be able to socialize with other patients like people do at bars and see which place the cops get called to the most.Although in this town most calls about collectives will be trumped up like someone walking through the parking lot smoking a cig and the cops telling the collective owner they need to enforce the town smoking ordinance better.Pfft

      • Avatar james of all trades says:

        yo man its james of all trades mickey c told me bout all this shit ur stirrin up out west keep up the good word man and maybe the whole world will hear what we all been screamin PEACE!!! sincerly james birch of chincoteague island

        • Avatar Spc Sean D Merritt says:

          Thanks James, Hope all is well for you back home and for your support I am grateful

  24. Avatar Spc Sean D Merritt says:

    Wanna see what the mayor had to say about FELONS owning weapons

    Now he thinks"We are simply taking people's rights away too much in California"

    If by we he means him than his statement would be true.You can't make this stuff up folks its too funny

  25. Avatar Amber says:

    @ Diamondback:

    Good for you! Sticking up for WHAT'S RIGHT…Not WHO's right 🙂 So did anyone ever come up with a validated answer? Is it legal for a MM patient to own a gun (if he/she is within their rights)? Thanks!!!

  26. Avatar Ed says:

    Let me see if I get it right. As soldiers (Viet Nam & Mideast Wars) they can get addicted to herion, marijuana, hashish..etc.. and operate the World's most dangerous weapons & the Federal Goverment has no problem with that. But someone who uses marijuana for medical purposes cannot own a gun. I suffer from pain all day, & I don't use marijuana for medical reasons. But I believe that we all have different levels of pain tolerance, & if someone needs it why punish them. Common sense tells me these people know when they should take their medication & when not.

  1. February 4, 2010

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