There is a tricky question in relation to medical marijuana patients and gun laws in the USA. Marijuana is still considered a drug at the federal level and the implications of this is that legal gun owners are forbidden to use medical marijuana. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms said that law applies to potential medical marijuana patients regardless pf whether or not“the state has passed legislation authorizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes.” This is one of many, many problems that have arisen due to the failure of the Federal government to simply declassify the cannabis plant, a move which is very popular with voters and not so popular with other large scale commercial and political interests.
Marijuana and Guns
The situation definitely needs to be addressed, as it is forcing people to choose between their guns which is a constitutional right and their health, which is a natural right. Something has to be done to rectify the situation and there should be some sort of exemption at the Federal level.
The Gun Control Act that was passed in 1968 prohibits an unlawful user or a person addicted to cannabis from purchasing guns, even if the person resides in a state where recreational or medical marijuana are legal. In 2016 a Federal Appeals court ruled that the restriction of gun ownership for those who were medical marijuana card holders did not restrict the Second Amendment Right to bear arms. In Nevada in 2011, S. Rowan Wilson was refused a firearm from a store and filed a lawsuit challenging the Federal statute prohibiting gun ownership by a medical marijuana patient. The case went to the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, where it was eventually held that the Federal law was not in violation of Second Amendment Rights. So judging from the sole case on the subject it seems that people are going to have to choose between the two unless something changes.
Gun laws in Different States
But the situation might not actually be as bad as it seems at first glance. Each state has their own set of laws with regard to gun purchases and the format can be harder or softer in certain states. States such as Georgia are incredibly easy to purchase a gun in, while other states require a background check including a criminal record check. There are also quite a number of unlicensed sellers who have no intention of performing a background check on anybody. Federal law does require all licensed firearm dealers to perform a background check on anybody who wishes to purchase a firearm, but this is not always enforced or enforced very loosely by many vendors.
Eight States require more than a background check but also require the purchaser to have a permit. These States include Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan and North Carolina. This permit is required only for the sale of handguns in Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska and North Carolina. None of these states actually ban a medical marijuana patient from owning a firearm. But this may be considered an aggravating factor if cultivators are in court for other marijuana related concernsAfter the ruling of the 2011 case, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives made an amendment to the Firearms Transaction Record:
“Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance? Warning: The use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under Federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medicinal or recreational purposes in the state where you reside.”
As strict as the wording is, it still only applies if gun sellers do their due diligence in the background check of firearm customers, and this is often not the case. Saying no to this statement is considered perjury if the purchaser is a marijuana user and gets caught. The interesting question is what to do if you happen to be in a car and are pulled over by a police officer with marijuana and a firearm. Those two items are not allowed together from a legal point standpoint. In some states, you are obliged to disclose whether you are carrying a firearm. The simple solution is obviously not to carry the two at the same time. It is reckless and irresponsible to smoke while also holding a firearm. A possible way to insure yourself is to obtain a Federal Firearms License. If you are relived of your lawful inventory for any reason then you can prosecute it as a felony, with no exemption for state officers.
Why will they not Simply Decriminalize?
Again, the refusal by the Federal government to decriminalize a harmless plant is causing untold stress on hundreds of thousand of American citizens. Some of these citizens might actually end up in jail due to the ambiguity and continuing complexity surrounding cannabis legalization. It could all be solved with a simple bill, and most politicians for the next election will have marijuana declassification and legalization front and center as a talking point.