According to the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC), it’s still not legal to own, possess, or purchase a gun if you are a medical marijuana patient. This is because, at the federal level: 

  1. Marijuana is still a Schedule I drug and is illegal per the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), and 
  2. You cannot use a controlled substance and possess a firearm per the Gun Control Act of 1968.

While the MMCC makes it clear that information contained in Maryland’s patient registry is considered confidential, protected health information, Maryland State Police ask gun purchasers if they are a medical cannabis patient and bar those who say they are from making the transaction. 

They also want you to know that “individuals who provide false information by failing to disclose that they are a medical cannabis patient when purchasing a firearm are in violation of federal statute, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of as much as $250,000.​” 

MD Legislators Are Trying to Change Gun Laws

It’s not for a lack of trying that MD legislators have not been able to tweak the law so that MMJ patients can bypass federal gun laws. In the 2019 session, both the senate and the house introduced bills that would ensure that “a person may not be denied the right to purchase, possess, or carry a firearm under this title solely on the basis that the person is authorized to use medical cannabis under title 13, subtitle 33 of the health – general article.”

HB749 died fairly quickly. However, SB97 made it to a vote in the senate, passing unanimously, 46-0. At some point after, however, that bill died as well. 

If such a bill were enacted, it would not have made purchasing a gun any easier, nor would it have changed the legality on a federal level. At best, it would have stopped local law enforcement from enforcing federal law on people who already own and possess guns. 

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. Some states that have legalized medical cannabis have taken steps to protect the gun rights of their residents. Others have issued orders for gun owners to turn in their firearms if they have a medical marijuana card. Some states hover in a gray area in between. 

When it comes to just possessing medical cannabis in states where it is legal, state laws are upheld only because the U.S. congress has forbidden the Department of Justice to spend funds on enforcing federal cannabis law in states. 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 an MMJ patient and state 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 purchasers 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 if found out and if local law enforcement chooses to enforce federal law.

Cannabis and gun ownership remains a muddy area that will only become clear when federal cannabis law changes.

Elevate Holistics

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.