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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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