Shasta College Student Essay: ‘Guns and Marijuana’

Shasta College student Andrew Ratterman

In the eyes of the federal government, marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 drug and is no different than heroin, cocaine or any other hard drug. The mere mention of heroin and marijuana in the same sentence as a comparable drug makes many people, including this writer, roll their eyes. Heroin increases the likelihood of kidney disease and liver disease. It causes heart infection and overdosing that can result in death. Cocaine can lead to irregular heartbeat, heart failure, chest pain, respiratory failure, seizures, headaches, and nausea (Buddy). While marijuana distorts perception and creates hunger, it seems to be a lot less harmful than the other schedule 1 drugs. Others would even argue that marijuana is simply a medicine like any other and should not be anywhere near classified with drugs like heroin and cocaine.

In my eyes, marijuana is a much safer of a drug than alcohol. If I were forced to choose between somebody under the influence of alcohol or under the influence of marijuana with a gun, I would choose the marijuana gunman every time. Any reasonable person who has experienced these two influences knows that alcohol makes people do much crazier things than marijuana. Knowing this, it makes little sense for the federal government to classify marijuana as a schedule 1 drug. It is far less dangerous and ruins far fewer lives than alcohol. 

On the other side of this argument are the individuals who say that a drug like marijuana that is mind altering should be classified as a schedule 1 drug. This would cause many problems with the amount of people in our country that are on opiate based pain medications which are also mind altering. In the interest of being consistent, the federal government then should also deny these individuals their Second Amendment right of owning a gun. So it does not make a lot of sense that people who smoke pot cannot own a gun but people who are on opiate based pain medications can.

The way the law is written, any gun shop owner cannot knowingly sell a gun or ammunition to somebody under the influence of drugs. When a gun buyer is filling out an application to purchase a gun there is a question on the form that asks the individual if they are medicinal marijuana users. If the person who is trying to purchase a gun answers positively then the gun shop cannot sell this individual a gun. This new law has made a lot of gun shop owners very nervous as some fear that they may accidentally sell guns or ammunitions to person that possesses a medicinal marijuana card (Sabalow).

“The knuckle heads from the federal government and the state have to come together on what the law is,” said Gun Owners of California Executive Director Sam Paredes. “There has to be some kind of conformity so law abiding citizens don’t go from federal forms to state forms and then they are violating the law” (“Medical”). The way this will all play out will take much time and most likely take place in court rooms across the country. In one case it already has begun and just when you thought it couldn’t get any more confusing, the Oregon Supreme Court has ruled that a retired bus driver can keep her concealed weapon and her medicinal marijuana.  What’s next, are pot shop owners going to start asking their customers if they own a gun?

What a mess.

 Works Cited

Buddy, T. “The Health Effects of Cocaine: Short-Term and Long-Term Effects.” About.com: Alcoholism. About.com, 08 May 2011. Web. 12 Oct. 2011.

“Medical Marijuana Users Can’t Buy Guns; ATF Says Advocates Say Decision Violates Second Amendment Rights.” KCRA.com. Hearst Stations Inc., 28 Sept 2011. Web. 11 Oct 2011.

“Oregon Court Rules Medical Pot Users Can Have Guns.” Chicago Defender Online. The Associated Press, 2011. Web. 11 Oct. 2011.

Richardson, Valerie. “Medical-Pot Users Fuming Over ATF’s Gun-Sale Ban.” The Washington Post. The Washington Times, 6 Oct 2011. Web. 15 Oct. 2011.

Sabalow, Ryan. “No Guns for Pot Users; Sales Illegal to Medical Marijuana Users.” The Record Searchlight. Scripps Interactive Newspapers Group, 28 Sept. 2011. Web. 11 Oct 2011.

Click here for an explanation of the Shasta College student essay project.

Andrew Ratterman grew up in Dixon California. He attended Napa Valley College for a year and transferred to Shasta College this year. Andrew loves the game of baseball.

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8 Responses

  1. Avatar Duncan20903 says:

    Cocaine and methamphetamine are both schedule II drugs and available for prescription if a doctor thinks that they're appropriate medicines. Medicinal methamphetamine trades under the brand name Desoxyn®. For some unknown reason cocaine has no brand name.

    Medicinal meth is FDA approved for use by schoolchildren at least 6 years old. The target patient is between ages 8 & 12. You know, for the ADHD.

  2. Well-researched, well-written. The best local column on this issue since the ATF issued it's "no guns for medical marijuana users" edict several months ago. Glad to see 'the kids' can still think for themselves despite the incredible amount of b.s. they are fed about both pot and guns. Looking forward to hearing more from Mr. Ratterman and the rest of the student essayists.

  3. Avatar Matthew Meyer says:

    Duncan's right, cocaine is in Schedule II, along with methamphetamine.

    Don't feel bad, I've seen the same mistake made in major national publications.

    It just doesn't make sense to people that cocaine and meth are "less controlled" than cannabis. There's a good reason for that: it really doesn't make sense.

    Check this list of Schedule II drugs:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Schedule_II_

  4. Avatar Adrienne Jacoby says:

    What a great use of this public forum. Most excellent teaching method. Hands-on education is the very best method of teaching, I always say. Hooray to Doni for supporting this endeavor. . . to say nothing of a teacher with innovative teaching skills.

    Oh, and a very well thought out, interesting article.

    Keep up the good work . . . all of you.

  5. Avatar 333maxwell says:

    To the author Andrew..

    Consider becoming a journalist.. your bit here, while more along the format of an op-ed, was still more articulate and more informative (and presented in an easily engaging manner) than most 'professional' pieces written on the subject.

    Whatever that is worth.. heck, you seemingly even edited and proof read it.. something that is being neglected more and more with the 'professionals'.

  6. Avatar Canda says:

    Andrew, I find your article to be well written. I think it's a fantastic idea for you, as students, to publish your work here on anewscafe. Best of luck to you in pursuing your journalism degree, and I look forward to more essays from your classmates.

  7. Avatar Budd Hodges says:

    One can only surmise that those early legislators made marijuna laws wrong in it's classification. They made insane bans on an elementary weed that relives several ailments and inhances ones outlook on lives. They made this drug more attractive and created criminals of otherwise lawful people.

    Marijuana no more leads to stronger drugs like opiates than coffee might lead to smoking or for God sakes drinking liquor or other legal substance. Banning something makes a person want it more and creates more in- mates for overcrowded jails and state prisons.

    Try to convince our antique U.S. Congressman Wallace Herger of this unfortunate situation and you'll get the negitive responce that I got. What a sad situation.

  8. Avatar Michele says:

    Great column idea and a great article!