Portland, ME (December 2, 2019) — Today, Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) and Firearms Policy Foundation (FPF) filed a “friend of the court” brief in the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, sitting as the Law Court, in the case of State of Maine v. Richard A. Tonini, asking the Court to hold that the mere possession of marijuana does not render a person prohibited from possessing firearms. The brief is available online at FPCLegal.org.
The case stems from a non-violent police encounter, where Richard Tonini, the appellant in the case, was pulled over by a Maine State Trooper for a traffic infraction. During the stop, the officer inquired as to a plastic bag in the vehicle’s back seat, which he believed to be marijuana. After confirming its contents, Mr. Tonini admitted to possessing two firearms. Mr. Tonini was charged with furnishing scheduled drugs and being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm. Ultimately, at trial, Mr. Tonini was acquitted of furnishing scheduled drugs but convicted of being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm.
The Supreme Judicial Court invited interested parties to address three questions:
- Can a person who possesses marijuana be determined to be "an unlawful user of or . . . addicted to any controlled substance" within the meaning of the firearms possession prohibition in 15 M.R.S. § 393(1)(G) (2018)?
- What effect, if any, does an acquittal on a charge of furnishing a scheduled drug have on the State's ability to establish that the defendant was prohibited from possessing a firearm pursuant to section 393(1)(G)?
- What is the test for evaluating the constitutionality of section 393 in light of the United States Supreme Court's decisions in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), and McDonald v. City of Chicago, 561 U.S. 742 (2010)?
“Based on our research, and as our brief explains, a person who merely possesses marijuana cannot automatically be deemed an ‘unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance’,” said FPC Director of Legal Strategy, attorney, and the brief’s lead author, Adam Kraut. “Nothing in the record indicates Mr. Tonini had previously ingested marijuana, was arrested for marijuana, or was ‘addicted to’ marijuana. Further, based on the Supreme Court’s straightforward categorical method for examining laws that infringe on rights protected under the Second Amendment, Mr. Tonini’s right to keep and bear arms cannot be restricted on the trial record.”
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Firearms Policy Coalition (www.firearmspolicy.org) is a 501(c)(4) grassroots nonprofit organization. FPC’s mission is to defend the People’s rights, especially the human right to keep and bear arms, promote individual liberty, and restore freedom.
Firearms Policy Foundation (www.firearmsfoundation.org) is a 501(c)(3) grassroots nonprofit organization. FPF’s mission is to defend the Constitution of the United States and the People’s rights, privileges and immunities deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition, especially the inalienable, fundamental, and individual right to keep and bear arms.