A top Florida Democrat has launched a Second Amendment challenge against the Biden Administration.
Nikki Fried, Florida’s commissioner of agriculture, filed the suit in federal court on Wednesday. Her complaint alleges that current federal law prohibiting marijuana users from owning guns is unconstitutional as applied to Florida’s medical marijuana regime.
“I’m suing the Biden Administration because people’s rights are being limited,” Fried tweeted after NBC News broke the story of her suit. “Medical marijuana is legal. Guns are legal. This is about people’s rights and their freedoms to responsibly have both.”
The suit is just the latest to highlight ways state and federal laws can conflict. While marijuana is legal in Florida for medical use, the substance remains illegal at the national level. The federal Gun Control Act prohibits unlawful users of controlled substances from purchasing or possessing weapons. Likewise, the ATF background check form 4473 requires a prospective gun buyer to affirm that they do not use marijuana under penalty of perjury.
Fried filed the suit on behalf of two Florida medical marijuana patients and another resident who is eligible to receive medical marijuana but refuses out of concern for his gun rights. The lawsuit names as defendants Attorney General Merrick Garland and Marvin Richardson in his capacity as the acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
Fried, the sole elected Democrat to hold statewide office in Florida since 2018, is an unlikely candidate to launch a lawsuit over gun rights. She has been a vocal proponent of stricter gun-control laws throughout her political career, and she currently enjoys endorsements from major gun-control groups. However, Fried is also one of the more high-profile challengers vying to unseat incumbent Governor Ron DeSantis (R.) this November.
Her lawsuit makes clear that it is not seeking to challenge the federal government’s ability to pass and enforce gun laws.
“The Plaintiffs do not challenge the United States’ right to enact reasonable gun regulations that protect the public,” the suit reads. “In fact, the Plaintiffs are all strong advocates for reasonable gun regulations that keep firearms out of the hands of those who cannot safely possess them.”
But she has also long been a proponent for liberalizing laws surrounding marijuana usage and has lobbied for cannabis reforms in her position as Florida’s agriculture commissioner where she also oversees the state’s concealed carry permitting system. Her suit alleges that current federal regulations “impermissibly punish Florida medical marijuana patients who have fully complied with state law.”
DeSantis’s office responded to the suit with tentative support but acknowledged that the Governor had not yet read the suit, according to WFLA anchor Evan Donovan.
“On principle: The governor stands for protecting Floridians’ constitutional rights—including 2nd Amendment rights,” the governor’s office said. “Floridians should not be deprived of a constitutional right for using a medication lawfully.”
The Department of Justice did not respond to a request for comment on the suit.