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The Right to Bear Arms and Lawfully Use Medical Marijuana

Currently, there is a conflict between the right to bear arms and lawfully use medical marijuana in Michigan. Many individuals believe that anyone who obtains a medical marijuana card is precluded from owning a weapon and/or obtaining a concealed pistol license. This is because a Federal law specifically makes it unlawful for any individual who is an unlawful user of any controlled substance to ship, transport, possess, or receive any firearm or ammunition which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce. To learn more about the conflict between the right to bear arms and lawfully use medical marijuana in Michigan, contact an attorney. Skilled medical marijuana lawyers can help clarify what this conflict can mean for you and your future.

Understanding Federal Gun Licensees

In order to clarify the conflict between the right to bear arms and lawfully use medical marijuana in Michigan, one should understand their role as a federal gun licensee. In an open letter dated September 21, 2011 and written by Arthur Herbert, Assistant Director of the Enforcement Programs and Services of the US Department of Justice, BATF, and directed to all federal firearms licensees, indicates that there are no exceptions in Federal law for marijuana purportedly used for medical purposes, even when sanctioned by state law.

The letter also indicates that it is unlawful for someone addicted to marijuana to possess either firearms or ammunition. Federal firearms licensees may not transfer firearms or ammunition to someone they know or have reasonable cause to believe may be an unlawful user of or addicted to marijuana. This is true even if the individual attempting to obtain firearm or ammunition answers no to this question on their Firearms Transaction Record.

Potential Litigation

CPLs are governed by Michigan state law and not by Federal law, and there is no specific preclusion under state law. Consequently, whether a medical marijuana cardholder may simultaneously hold a CPL remains an open question that has not yet been litigated. One state that has litigated this issue, or one close to it, is Oregon, whose Supreme Court has indicated that state sheriffs had a duty under state concealed handgun licensing law, to issue concealed carry permits to qualified applicants without regard to their use of medical marijuana.

Historical View of Marijuana and Gun Laws

The court also held that this duty was not preempted by federal Gun Control Act of 1968's prohibition on possession of firearms by unlawful users of controlled substances. The court indicated that state sheriff's failure to issue concealed carry licenses was not excused because such issuance to a medical marijuana user would violate a section of federal Act prohibiting the making of any statement that is likely to deceive a gun dealer regarding the lawfulness of the sale of a firearm.

In considering the interplay between these two rights, you are well advised to know that by possessing both a CPL and/or a firearm, you may be in violation of Federal law, and you may be precluded for purchasing or possessing a firearm. Many medical marijuana entrepreneurs will not be medical marijuana patients and will not be users of marijuana. The question of whether you may co-own a medical marijuana business license is a little bit different. To learn more about the conflict between the right to bear arms and lawfully use medical marijuana in Michigan, consider speaking with a knowledgeable defense attorney today.

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