Letters to the Editor

Close ‘pothead loophole’

A recent Associated Press article (CDT, 2/24) detailed increases of marijuana-related hospital emergency room visits by tourists in Colorado. Symptoms noted by medical personnel attending the marijuana users (“aggressive behavior and hallucinations...” and exacerbation of “underlying medical conditions, especially schizophrenia or psychosis”) are especially noteworthy.

Federal law lists marijuana as a “controlled substance” and says any person “who is an unlawful user of or who is addicted to a controlled substance” is prohibited from “possessing, shipping/transporting, or receiving any firearm or ammunition.”

The Obama administration refuses to enforce these statutes and to ensure that anybody illegally buying and using marijuana anywhere in the USA is listed in the database for the National Instant Background Check System (NICS) that federal firearm licensees are required to check before selling firearms to anybody. Consequently, the Obama administration’s refusal to enforce marijuana law makes it possible for any pothead in the country who is not subject to other restrictions on possession of firearms to pass the mandatory NICS background check and to acquire firearms.

That outrageous dereliction of duty has been ignored by news media and presidential candidates, a fact that’s all the more remarkable now with the alarming news from Colorado. It’s impossible to reconcile that disinterest with widespread agreement on the need to keep guns away from individuals who should not have them. Promptly closing the “pothead loophole” by enforcing existing federal law would surely be a means to that end.

Phil Edmunds, Boalsburg