Fifth Circuit Says Lifetime Firearms Ban for Marijuana Users is Unconstitutional

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Puff, puff, plink?

In a recent landmark decision, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals[1] ruled that imposing a lifetime gun ban on marijuana users is unconstitutional. The case of US v. Daniels[2] centered around Patrick Daniels, a Mississippi man who had been arrested and sentenced to prison for possessing firearms as an unlawful user of marijuana. The three-judge panel unanimously concluded that this conviction was inconsistent with the historical context and traditional understanding of gun regulation[3], ultimately violating the Second Amendment rights of citizens.

Judge Jerry E. Smith, an appointee of President Ronald Reagan, authored the opinion[4] for the panel, asserting that while history and tradition may support limitations on an intoxicated person’s right to bear arms, disarming a sober individual solely based on their past marijuana use is not justified. The panel argued that disallowing a nonviolent drug user from possessing firearms was a violation of their Second Amendment rights. The court specifically noted that the challenged statute, § 922(g)(3)[5], was unconstitutional as applied to Daniels.

This ruling contributes to the ongoing national discourse surrounding the scope and limits of the Second Amendment. Courts across the country are grappling with defining who exactly the Second Amendment protects and the circumstances under which a person can be legitimately disarmed. This decision emphasizes that while there may be valid concerns about the intersection of gun ownership and drug use, a more nuanced approach is needed to balance individual rights with public safety.

It’s important to note that this decision does not challenge the broader federal prohibition on gun possession by drug users. Instead, it focuses on the specific scenario of nonviolent marijuana users being subjected to a lifetime gun ban.[6] The ruling provides an opportunity for reevaluation of how drug policy intersects with gun rights, particularly in the context of states that have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use.

As this case joins the ranks of recent legal developments reshaping the landscape of gun laws in the United States, it underscores the intricate relationship between individual liberties, constitutional rights, and evolving societal norms. This decision serves as a reminder that the interpretation of the Second Amendment continues to evolve, reflecting the changing dynamics of our society and the ongoing efforts to balance personal freedoms with public safety.


[2] USA v. Daniels, No. 22-60596 (5th Cir. 2023)

[3] N.Y. State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n v. Bruen, 142 S. Ct. 2111, 2126 (2022)

[4] Ibid

[5] 18 U.S. Code § 922 – Unlawful acts

[6] That accords with the holding in Range v. Att’y General United States of America,

69 F.4th 96, 101–03 (3d Cir. 2023) (en banc), where the court held that a man convicted of

a false statement was part of “the people” and had Second Amendment rights, even though

he was not “law-abiding.” Range relied in part on then-Judge Barrett’s dissent in Kanter

  1. Barr, 919 F.3d 437, 452 (7th Cir. 2019), in which she reasoned that “all people have the

right to keep and bear arms,” but “history and tradition support Congress’s power to strip

certain groups of that right.”


Michael Infanzon is a political and government policy contributor at The Prickly Pear.

 Michael writes about government policies that affect millions of Americans, from their introduction in the legislature to their implementation and how policies impact our everyday freedoms.

 Michael is the Managing Partner for EPIC Policy Group, located in Phoenix, AZ. EPIC has clients ranging from motorcycle rights organizations, firearms organizations, 2A rights organizations, veterans advocacy, chambers of commerce to agricultural products and personal freedoms among other policy issues.

 You can follow Michael on Twitter (@infanzon) and email him at


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