DENVER – A pro-gun group is pushing a ballot initiative for 2015 that would allow users of marijuana to obtain a concealed handgun permit in Colorado.
The current County Sheriffs of Colorado application for a concealed handgun permit asks applicants to answer whether they are an “unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana, or any depressant, stimulant, or narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?”
But the Colorado-based group Guns for Everyone wants to eliminate that provision, pointing out that with both medical and recreational marijuana legalization in Colorado, the question simply muddies the waters.
The ballot initiative would amend statute to state that a sheriff must issue a permit to an applicant who “is not an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance.” It would then state “lawful use of marijuana shall not be cause for denying a permit to carry a concealed handgun.”
“Our goal is to have Colorado’s concealed handgun permit law sync with Colorado’s marijuana laws,” said Edgar Antillon, co-founder of Guns for Everyone.
But he points out that the initiative does nothing to address the issue on the federal level. Legislation has been introduced in Congress to address the firearms issue for medical marijuana patients.
“The entire state of Colorado is in violation of federal law,” Antillon pointed out about marijuana still being illegal on the federal level, despite Colorado’s legalization, passed by voters in 2012. “But the permit is a state issue, not a federal issue.”
Proponents have delivered a draft to the state. If approved for signature gathering, they would need to collect 86,105 valid signatures to place the initiative on the ballot.
Antillon said it didn’t make sense to approach lawmakers with the issue to address at the legislature, since he felt it could be politically toxic with split chambers.
“Typically, pro-marijuana legislators are not pro-gun, and vice versa,” he said. “I trust the people more than I do the lawmakers.”
Ashley Weber, a marijuana activist who sits on several pro-cannabis boards, said she knows of medical marijuana patients who have been impacted by the marijuana issue as it pertains to concealed handguns.
“It just seems like red card holders, they’re self-incriminating themselves by being a concealed-weapons holder. You can’t have both,” Weber explained. “The numbers aren’t working out, and this logic needs to change.”