Ballot initiative wants to remove marijuana use as a disqualifier for concealed carry permits

Colorado sees spike in concealed carry applications
Posted at 8:40 PM, Dec 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-15 22:40:37-05

DENVER — In November 2024, Colorado voters could decide whether marijuana use will continue to prevent applicants from receiving concealed carry permits.

Guns for Everyone, a pro-gun rights organization that trains for concealed carry permits and opposes gun restrictions, has begun the process of putting the question as an initiative on the ballot next year. It will have a hearing before Colorado's Legislative Council Staff (LCS) on Tuesday.

Edgar Antillon, co-founder of Guns for Everyone, said he views it as a "freedom issue" given that Colorado legalized recreational use of marijuana more than a decade ago.

"It's one of those silly things that has been going on for a while. We've legalized marijuana, but we don't give [users] the ability to defend themselves," Antillon said. "Alcohol users get to defend themselves. Why not marijuana users?"

Under current state law, sheriffs in Colorado cannot issue a permit to carry to a person who is "ineligible" under federal law. Because federal law still lists marijuana as a controlled substance, this prevents Colorado sheriffs from issuing concealed carry permits to anyone who is "an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance."

The proposed change to the law, as it is currently written in the proposed ballot initiative, would amend Colorado law to include that "a sheriff shall not use a permit applicant's lawful use of marijuana ... as a basis for denying the applicant a permit."

Guns for Everyone will have its first big step in getting the initiative onto the ballot at its LCS hearing, in which attorneys and staff will ask clarifying questions and determine if the wording of the proposed law change is clear and sound. Even after that step, though, it is not guaranteed. It then has to be accepted and titled by the Secretary of State's Office, at which point Guns for Everyone organizers will need to collect nearly 125,000 signatures within six months.

Julia Jackson, a principal research analyst with the LCS, said only a small handful of proposed initiatives actually make it onto the ballot — just six out of 151 submissions in the 2021-2022 cycle. That, she said, is by design.

"There's some good research on the longer the ballot is, the less likely people are to fill it out all the way to the bottom," Jackson said. "And I think proponents are mindful of that, too. They don't want to go collect signatures on something that's going to be buried in a big, complicated ballot."

Antillon said his team is getting ready for their signature gathering campaign to begin. He feels confident they will collect enough signatures and be able to bring their pitch directly to voters.

"We want this to be treated equally as people who consume alcohol," he said. "People who consume alcohol are able to buy guns and are able to get their permits. But at the same time, legally, they cannot be under the influence of alcohol while possessing a firearm. And pot users kind of want the same thing."

Ballot initiative wants to erase marijuana use from concealed carry disqualifier

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