Why Can’t Medical Cannabis Patients Own Guns?

0
139


W
hatever
your
thoughts
on
America’s
gun
culture,
it
cannot
be
denied
that
many
Americans
consider
gun
ownership
a
fundamental
right.
The
ease
of
access
to
firearms
that
one
can
argue
is
a
constitutional
right,
combined
with
a
well-funded
and
highly
influential
gun
lobby,
means
essentially
that
in
America,
if
you
want
a
gun,
you
pretty
much
can
get
one.

The
statistics
bear
this
out.
A

2017
Gallup
Poll

estimates
that
there
are
393
million
registered
firearms
in
America,
meaning
that
there
are
currently
more
guns
than
people.

Even
more
surprising,
half
of
that
total
amount
of
weaponry
is
owned
by
only
3%
of
the
population.
With
numbers
like
these,
it
may
come
as
a
surprise
that
anyone
in
America
over
the
age
of
18
cannot
purchase
a
firearm
if
they
so
desire.
However,
there
are
a
few
exceptions
enforced
by
the
federal
government,
including
people
with
violent
criminal
histories,
mental
health
issues,
and
patients
who
hold

medical
marijuana
cards
.

Why
Guns
are
Off-Limits
for
Medical
Cannabis
Patients

The
reason
for
MMJ
patients
who
have
followed
their
state’s
laws
in
legally
obtaining
a
medical
marijuana
card
to
be
grouped
into
the
same
firearm
prohibited
status
as
violent
criminals
and
the
mentally
ill
dates
back
to
the

The
Gun
Control
Act
of
1968
,
which
prohibits
anyone
from
possessing
guns
or
ammunition
if
they
use
or
are
addicted
to
cannabis
or
any
other

controlled
substance
.

An
open
letter
from
the

Bureau
of
Alcohol,
Tobacco,
Firearms,
and
Explosives

(ATF)
put
out
in
2011
restated
their
position
that
the
1968
still
stands
regardless
of
changing
societal
attitudes
about
marijuana.
The
letter
says
that
anyone
who
uses
marijuana,
regardless
of
state
law,
qualifies
as
an “unlawful
user
of”
the
controlled
substance,
and
is
therefore
prohibited
from
owning
a
gun.

ATF


The
ATF
is
responsible
for
gun
restrictions
on
medical
cannabis
patients.

photo
credit

In
that
same
letter,
federal
officials
clarified
that
possession
of
a
medical
marijuana
card
served
as
reasonable
cause
to
suspect
the
card
owner
of
being
an
unlawful
marijuana
user,
even
if
that
person
obtained
the
card
to
use
marijuana
by
following
the
law.

This
ruling
has
prevented
many
patients
who
could
benefit
greatly
from
owning
an
MMJ
card
from
applying
for
one
because
they
also
want
to
buy
a
gun.
Because
their
MMJ
card
is
registered
in
a
government
database,
they
will
be
flagged
in
a
background
check
as
being
a
suspected
consumer
of
marijuana.
The
only
legal
way
the
ATF
will
allow
a
medical
cannabis
patient
to
even
have
a
gun
in
their
home
is
if
their
spouse
does
not
consume
cannabis,
purchases
a
firearm,
and
keeps
it
locked
away
with
no
access
to
the
MMJ
card
holder.

Enforcement
Issues

Despite
the
clear
legal
language,
enforcing
the
1968
Gun
Control
Act
in
its
full
capacity
is
pretty
much
impossible
in
the
age
of
legalized
cannabis.
For
example,
according
to
the
federal
law
gun
owners
are
not
allowed
to
be
around
people
who
are
known

cannabis
consumers

or
growers.
The
idea
behind
this
was
to
create
sentence-enhancing
criminal
charges
for
drug
dealers
who
were
packing
heat.
However,
armed
security
guards
hired
to
watch
over
a
dispensary,
money
transfers
from
the
store,
or
marijuana
transportation
throughout
a
legalized
state
are
also
technically
in
violation
of
the
law
and
could
be
charged
just
for
doing
their
jobs.

Officials
in
legalized
states
like

Colorado

essentially
look
the
other
way
on
enforcing
these
laws
to
ensure
that
the
industry
is
protected.
Otherwise,
marijuana
businesses
would
be
sitting
ducks
for
criminals
who
somehow
gained
access
to
a
firearm
despite
the
ATF’s
strict
regulations
and
clear
legal
language.

Guns


It’s
becoming
harder
to
enforce
cannabis
gun
laws
with
more
states
legalizing.

photo
credit

And
while
US
federal
law
is
clear
on
the
necessity
for
all
licensed
firearm
dealers
to
perform
background
checks
on
those
seeking
to
purchase
a
gun,
non-MMJ
card-holders
who
smoke
weed
can
pretty
easily
purchase
a
firearm.

Recreational
Cannabis
Consumers
Can
Own
Guns,
Why
Not
Medical
Patients?

Without
a
conviction
for
any
marijuana-related
charges
on
your
record,
you
can
pretty
easily

smoke
a
joint

in
the
morning,
walk
to
a
licensed
gun
shop
in
the
afternoon,
check
“no”
on
the

Are
you
an
unlawful
user
of,
or
addicted
to,
marijuana
or
any
other
depressant,
stimulant,
narcotic
drug,
or
any
other
controlled
substance?

question,
and
have
your
weapon
in
five
days.

If
you
purchase
your
gun
from
an
unlicensed
firearms
dealer
at
a
gun
show,
as
22%
of
all
firearm
sales
are
conducted,
you
don’t
even
need
to
have
the
background
check
performed.

However,
if
you’re
caught
with
a
gun
and
are
around
marijuana
or
known
marijuana
producers,
federal
law
will
still
come
down
extra
hard
on
you
for
violating
the
1968
Gun
Rights
Act,
no
matter
what
your
state
laws
say
about
the
legality
of
marijuana.

If
you
already
owned
guns
prior
to
legalization
and
are

applying
for
a
medical
marijuana
card
,
the
law
gets
very
fuzzy.
You
will
be
unable
to
buy
more
guns,
but
so
far
there
are
no
clear
instructions
on
what
to
do
about
the
guns
you
already
have.
Giving
them
up
could
open
you
to
prosecution
for
having
them
around
your
marijuana
in
the
first
place.

Legal
Action
Defending
Medical
Marijuana
Patients

MMJ
patients
have
filed
lawsuits
in
several
states
to
try
to
get
these
regressive
marijuana
policies
reversed.
In
one
case
filed
in
2016,
a
federal
appeals
court
ruled
that
the
1968
Gun
Rights
Act
did
not
violate
the
Second
Amendment
rights
of
a
Nevada
MMJ
patient
who
was

prohibited
from
purchasing
a
firearm

by
a
local
gun
store
in
2011.

Most
recently,
a
Philadelphia-based
doctor
named
Matthew
Roman

filed
a
lawsuit
against
the
federal
government

after
being
prohibited
from
purchasing
a
firearm
from
a
licensed
dealer
in
Pennsylvania.
The
doctor
has
both
prescribed
medical
marijuana
to
patients
and
uses
it
himself
to
deal
with

PTSD
.
He
was
trying
to
buy
the
handgun
for
protection
and
answered
the
background
check
questionnaire
honestly.
His
suit
alleges
that
both
his
right
to
own
a
firearm
and
his
Fifth
Amendment
right
against
self-incrimination
were
violated,
since
the
federal
firearms
transaction
form
requires
MMJ
patients
to
state
that
they
have
used
cannabis
“unlawfully”
even
if
it’s
legally
sanctioned
under
state
law.

Despite
the
lawsuits
filed
by
MMJ
patients,
there
is
little
likelihood
for
the
ATF
to
change
their
position
on
gun
ownership
until
marijuana
is
federally
legalized.
However,
if
you
are
an
alcoholic,
you
can
hop
in
your
car
right
now
and
buy
that
gun.
You
can
even
announce
it
to
the
licensed
gun
salesman
on
your
way
in

the
law
is
(hypocritically)
on
your
side.
Hopefully
we’ll
see
these
silly
paradoxes
become
a
thing
of
the
past
as
cannabis
reform
continue
to
spread
and
more
people
(especially
our
friends
at
the
ATF)
become
educated
on
the
actual
science
behind
cannabis.


Do
you
believe
medical
marijuana
patients
should
have
access
to
firearms?
Why
or
why
not?
Share
your
opinions
in
the
comments
below.


Photo
Credit:

Ryan

(license)

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

20 − thirteen =