At the start of 2018, Gov. Wolf said regarding Pennsylvania medical cardholders who owned guns, “We’re not going to take their guns away.” Many states that have an MMJ program also have officials who believe the federal ban on firearms for people possessing cannabis, medical patients in states with MMJ programs included, is unjust and should be changed.
Like Wolf, many state-level politicians don’t think people should have to choose between medical marijuana and owning a gun. Some states, like Oklahoma, are passing laws, ensuring that MMJ cardholders won’t be punished on state and local levels. But there’s not a lot that can be done about the federal law.
While law enforcement is usually allowed to check on the status of an MMJ patient as a matter of routine verification, states with MMJ programs are not required to share their patient database for the purpose of background checks.
While people in Pennsylvania must complete a form disclosing whether they are marijuana users when they go to buy firearms, the state police background check completed prior to gun purchases does not include a check of the database of medical marijuana cardholders.
Ultimately, It’s a Federal Thing
Until marijuana is no longer a Schedule I drug, it will not be federally legal to use cannabis or purchase and possess a firearm as a MMJ patient.
When it comes to possessing medical cannabis in states where it is legal, state laws are upheld because the U.S. congress has forbidden the Department of Justice to spend funds on enforcing federal cannabis law on the state level. It’s part of an appropriations bill that has been reenacted since 2014. It has even held up in court.
But there is no such rider bill that protects state MMJ laws from the Gun Control Act (GSA). This is because of Federal Firearm Licenses or FFLs. Gun dealers are required to be federally licensed per the GSA. This requires all potential firearms buyers to fill out the ATF Firearms Transaction Record form 4473.
Question 11(e) asks prospective gun purchasers if they are unlawfully using any controlled substances. You may think you can answer “No” because marijuana is legal in your state. But this statement immediately follows in bold:
“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.”
If you answer truthfully, the FFL dealer could lose their license if they sell the gun to you. If you lie, you could be charged with perjury.
Cannabis and gun ownership remains a muddy area that will only become clear when federal cannabis law changes.
At Elevate Holistics, we want MMJ patients to understand their right to access medicinal cannabis and the scope of all that comes along with it. If you own a firearm and are a qualifying patient, you should be aware that technically you are in violation of federal law.
Elevate is an online clinic offering certifications with compassionate registered cannabis doctors. Medical cannabis patients can book same-day appointments and get certified from the convenience of their home. In addition, we are a medical cannabis resource that partners with other industry experts to help make MMJ as easy and accessible as possible.