Medical Marijuana has found its way to Pennsylvania and has many breathing a sigh of relief, but for many Americans, medical marijuana may have an impact on your life in more ways than you might initially think.
Though medical marijuana is now legal in Pennsylvania and many other states, marijuana is still a Schedule I controlled substance and possession, and use of marijuana is still a federal crime, despite its seeming lack of enforcement.
How does this impact you? Well, if you are a gun owner, the impact is huge.
Under Federal Law, if you are “unlawful user of, or addicted to marijuana…” you are prohibited from possessing, using or purchasing a firearm. There is no exception under federal law for medical or recreational marijuana that is legal under state laws.
What about your License to Carry Firearms? That is in jeopardy as well. If you cannot legally possess a firearm, you certainly can’t carry a firearm concealed.
So while it may not be the answer you want to hear, the short answer is that you cannot be a user of medical marijuana and a gun owner at the same time.
Where the issue becomes more complex is in situations where you own guns, and your significant other, who you live with, uses medical marijuana. Does the fact that your significant other has marijuana in the house impact your right to possess firearms? What if you are registered as a care giver for your significant other who uses medical marijuana? The answer to that question is not as black and white, but to err on the side of caution, it is advisable to choose one or the other. The problem lies in how the government proves that you are an “unlawful user,” or rather how you have to prove that you are not an unlawful user. Simply because your significant other uses medical marijuana, does that mean that you are an unlawful user? Probably not, but that becomes a questions for a jury in a criminal trial. Whether or not you are guilty of the offense of possession of guns and are an unlawful user of marijuana at the same time does not prevent the government from charging you with a crime. And regardless of whether or not you actually use the marijuana, simple possession is still a crime under federal law.
So, you have received your medical marijuana card, now what? Once you become an unlawful user of a controlled substance, you become a person prohibited from possessing, purchasing or transferring firearms. Likewise, you will be unable to renew your Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms. Under 18 Pa.C.S. §6105(a)(2), a person who becomes “disqualified” and is now prohibited from possessing firearms, has a “reasonable time, not to exceed 60 days” to sell or transfer their guns to an eligible person who is not a member of their household. If you don’t dispossess yourself of your firearms within those 60 days, you become a criminal, unlawfully possessing those guns.
What about if you try to buy a new gun? Well, the ATF from 4473 that must be filled out prior to purchasing a firearm. One of the questions specifically asks if you are an “unlawful user of or addicted to marijuana…” The question specifically cautions that though medical marijuana may be legal, it is still illegal under federal law. If you answer yes to that question, its game over. The shop will not be selling you a gun. If you answer no, you will likely be denied because PICS will know that you are a registered user of medical marijuana. Not only will you be denied the purchase of a new gun, but you will be facing criminal charges for attempting to purchase a firearm by a person prohibited and falsifying information.
If you intend to use medical marijuana, be prepared to give up your guns. If you are not willing to give up your guns, then you cannot use medical marijuana.
Maybe someday the federal government will get with the program and legalize medical or even recreational marijuana and this will no longer be an issue but until that time comes, you can’t have your guns and smoke it, too.