Bill Would Legalize Gun Ownership for Medical Marijuana Users

The bill would only provide an exception for those who use marijuana for medical purposes, not recreational. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

A new piece of legislation introduced earlier this month in the U.S. House of Representatives would allow medical marijuana users to purchase and own firearms.

The bill, dubbed the “Second Amendment Protection Act,” was introduced by West Virginia Rep. Alexander Mooney and states that an individual “shall not be treated as an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance based on the individual using marijuana for a medical purpose in accordance with State law.”

Current federal law prohibits anyone who uses a Schedule I Controlled Substance for any purpose from owning a firearm, which includes medical cannabis. As the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) stated in a 2011 letter, “there are no exceptions in federal law for marijuana purportedly used for medicinal purposes, even if such use is sanctioned by state law.”

And even as more states legalize the drug for recreational and medical use, the ATF hasn’t budged on its stance.

SEE ALSO: Maryland Gun Owners Forced to Choose Between Firearms and Medical Marijuana

In 2016, the ATF amended Form 4473 to remind gun buyers that “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.”

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also ruled in 2016 that banning medical marijuana users from purchasing or owning a firearm does not violate Second Amendment rights. The court argued that there is a strong link between drug use, including marijuana use, and violence, and the federal ban is therefore justified.

Marijuana advocates contest that reasoning and argue that medical cannabis use should not deprive someone of his or her constitutional rights.

Morgan Fox, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, a national group that advocates liberalizing marijuana laws, told the Baltimore Sun that medical use of the drug should not be a barrier to gun ownership.

SEE ALSO: Honolulu Police Dept. to Pot Smokers: ‘You Have 30 Days to Turn over Your Guns’

“In general, we think medical marijuana patients should have the same rights as other law-abiding Americans,” he said.

The tension between state and federal drug and gun laws almost came to a head in Hawaii in 2017 when the Honolulu Police Department issued a letter to approximately 30 gun owners and marijuana users demanding that they turn in their firearms. The HPD backed down from enforcing that policy, but it demonstrates how conflicting laws can make trouble for even the most law-abiding Americans.

The Second Amendment Protection Act seeks to resolve at least some of that conflict, and it’s been referred to the House Judiciary Committee for review.

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About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over four years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco. Follow him on Instagram @bornforgoodluck and email him at jordan@gunsamerica.com.

{ 20 comments… add one }
  • William Davis April 30, 2019, 11:31 am

    It’s all about the money. How much money goes into congress from alcohol and tobacco? Washington should have learned something from prohibition.
    You can not legislate morality.

  • Robert Ragus April 30, 2019, 10:13 am

    Shall not infringe is not that hard to understand.

  • Paul April 30, 2019, 9:31 am

    This is going to be a “Pandora’s Box” situation. If you let the Medical users do it than why not the recreational users? Consuming alcohol is a crime while under arms so there is no difference. At least with alcohol it is much easier to tell that a person has been consuming as opposed to using pot!

  • Nemo April 27, 2019, 12:23 am

    Hawai’i’s MMJ patient list was shared with the Hawai’i State Police, which was a gross violation of privacy rights. Which really burned them after they had sent out letters to those very same patients at their residences, telling them they must turn in their weapons under Federal law. It should not require reminding that they are State police, not Federal agents.

    This attempted unlawful power grab got HSP’s pinkies singed for it. The lists are no longer shared with law enforcement. The same gambit was tried in PA and PA Police also had to back down, for the same reasons.

    The times are indeed a-changin’. Yesterday’s targets of the (unConstitutional) cannabis laws are now replacing all the old folks in the electorate that believed Gub’mint lies about cannabis…and the past decade has given the (insulting) lie to the propaganda about them being too stoned to vote. They vote, alright, and the biggest bloc that does vote in favor of cannabis re-legalization are the 18-34 year olds.

    Politicians are taking note of that fact and are acting accordingly to change the laws. The police had better start listening, because when those they keep trying to f–k over have the upper hand, politically, the police will find themselves on the wrong end of history…and economics, courtesy of budget cuts.

  • SuperG April 26, 2019, 1:09 pm

    This will probably fail because it benefits citizens. Congress only cares about their pockets, and not the people.

  • Ricky B. April 26, 2019, 10:34 am

    Lots of military veterans benefit from medical marijuana, so this is both a no-brainer & long past due! Those are Americans who have personally sacrificed to ensure the continuity of our constitutional rights for all Americans.

    Honestly it’s just dumb that a freaking plant that grows naturally in the dirt is in the same federal drug classification as cocaine & heroin, which both require significant chemical processing to convert their natural components into those respective narcotics… Just plain stupid!

    • Joe April 30, 2019, 2:43 pm

      Thank you for your kind words. I am a disabled gulf war veteran, and I have suffered for years from chronic pain, and other war related ailments I earned from protecting another foreign country. While I’m not suicidal or homicidal, I do long for the day I pass in my sleep, in order to not feel my daily pain. While I can get, and do qualify for medical marijuana to reduce my pain level, I refuse to do so, since i will not ever give up my rights, and or liberties for a little security or comfort. It is really a shame that a cure to give us a better quality of life, is held against us by our own government, and pharmaceutical companies whom had a hand in making us sick in the first place. Seeing now how “We The People” are treated, makes me as a disabled Veteran, feel as if my 11 years of service was in vain.

      • Vernon May 18, 2019, 1:01 pm

        Check it out further, but what i read in the 9th Circuit opinion, being a user of marijuana will prevent you from purchasing new firearms and/or ammunition. If you have already bought or made your own weapons, and bought ammunition, the use of marijuana does not prevent you from ownership/use, just purchase.

  • Irish-7 April 26, 2019, 10:12 am

    I think this is a GREAT idea! I’ve held suspicions for years, that the “medical marijuana” boon was a “backdoor’ gun confiscation plot. I know several people that are plagued by chronic pain. They are reluctant to accept medical marijuana credentials for fear they’ll lose concealed carry rights, or worse, have their firearms confiscated. The “Opioid Epidemic” has MISTAKENLY targeted the chronic pain community, blaming disabled folks for actions of the abusers and addicts. Tens of thousands of chronically ill and injured have lost their opiate medications, or had their prescriptions reduced to an arbitrary level set by the Center For Disease Control. If these people can find relief with medical marijuana, that’s fine with me. I do NOT believe that they should lose their “Right to keep and bear Arms”. Let’s face it, we have MILLIONS in America that drink alcohol and keep their guns. Also, the folks that still have opiate prescriptions are allowed to own guns, and carry open or concealed. The medical marijuana users are no different to me.

  • BW April 26, 2019, 9:20 am

    I don’t have any statistics to back this up. But my gut feeling is that firearm owners, who imbibe alcohol, routinely or otherwise and not necessarily to the point of inebriation, pose a far greater safety risk to the general populace than people who use medical marijuana. To me, drinkable alcohol is as much a drug as marijuana and has probably been responsible for far more deaths and injuries and ruined many more lives over the centuries due to its ingestion than marijuana ever could. Do away with the double standard. I hope the bill passes. By the way, I don’t use either “drug” (as in 100% abstinence) and own my share of firearms.

  • Big John April 26, 2019, 9:06 am

    It is as easy to get a “Medical Marijuana” permit as it is to get a “Handicap Parking Permit”, a “Service Dog”. or be diagnosed with “PTSD”…not that a FEW don’t deserve and benefit from these privileges. That said, I’m tired of the vast majority of Americans “gaming the system” because they think they are special snowflakes. In this case they need to make a choice “Weed or Weapons”.

    If anything this nation needs to look into why the testosterone levels are declining and reverse that trend, if that were to happen I think a lot of these other problems would take care of themselves.

    • Ricky B. April 26, 2019, 10:47 am

      It’s my understanding that soy beans raise people’s estrogen levels regardless of their sex… Tofu & soy milk must be to blame.

    • Matt April 27, 2019, 1:37 pm

      I have had two major back surgeries and have chronic pain. I was injured while on duty as a police officer. This injury forced me to retire early, arthritis has spread though my spine and I’m in pain all the time. I carry ccw due to the real threat on running into an old arrest that would love to get a hold of me in my current state. There are very few hobbies I can still enjoy but going to the range and collecting firearms is one of them. This past year I’ve had to take pain killers at night to try and get some sleep. Weed offers me a chance to get off the pain killers. Why should I have to give up my guns? I can get powerful pain killers which the government has no problem with but not weed. Many disabled veterans have gotten off pain killers with weed but loose their gun rights and the possibility of losing treatment by the VA. Thanks federal government for keeping us on additive pain killers. The year I had to retire two other officers medically retired also, I’m the only one still alive. One killed himself the other died of a morphine overdose. He would be alive today if he had another way of pain relief. As far as weed leading to violence that is baseless. I’ve fought a lot of drunks and those high on meth, crack and other drugs. I can’t ever remember anyone high on weed ever becoming violent in fact just the opposite.

      • T April 30, 2019, 12:30 pm

        Here! Here! Violence is associated with the “black market”, not the plant or its intended use.

        Leave the plant alone.

  • Terry k Hurd April 26, 2019, 9:00 am

    We should ban alcohol too because there is strong evidence that shows alcohol is involved in murdering innocent people while behind the wheel of a car, it tears marriages apart, causes spouse abuse, causes liver and brain damage, addiction to more and more each time you drink it and become hooked from its effects, will land you in jail if caught while DWI, etc. Weed is by far way LESS damaging than alcohol yet the cronies up in washington drink it, ie Pelosi, they can have their classy bourbon and fat cigars, but impose ridiculous laws on a organic weed that grows in the ditch. VOTE out govt. people who are against weed and let’s BAN alcohol instead. My dad was an alcoholic, drunk every week for years, i was abused by him as a boy. i KNOW what alcohol can do ! Weed was put here for a reason, alcohol is man made.

    • glock19fan April 26, 2019, 1:12 pm

      “We should ban alcohol…”? We did that once already and the whole shape and concept of American morals got so warped as a result that we have never gotten over it. Anyone wanting a drink could get it if he or she knew the ropes and bootlegging was so profitable that rival gangs shot each other up all over the place. And there were innocent victims of stray bullets. Some of the bootleg “hooch” was dangerous to drink because of the kind of alcohol and lack of purification. Never Forget.

  • Colene Brunton April 26, 2019, 8:49 am

    If legal medical marijuana card holders cannot possess a firearm, maybe those who are guilty of an OVI should not be able to possess one as well. Tit for Tat.

  • theendisnear April 26, 2019, 4:08 am

    … And somehow alcohol and tabacco are never considered dangerous drugs,
    …. despite the staggering harm associated with them!!!

  • Anon April 26, 2019, 4:00 am

    The only reason why “drug users” are violent is cause being a medicinal user and owning a gun as one is still illegal. As long as cannabis is treated the same as meth and heroin the violence and predicament those states are in will never change. Instead opt for passing this bill, see where it goes, then make an informed decision based on results instead of speculation.
    By the way “drug users” stands as a term for medicinal cannabis patients which are not drug users. Cannabis is not a drug. Also, the violence politicians and armed forces purport is nothing more than people fighting for their pursuit of happiness. All because a plant that has obvious medicinal qualities is still illegal on the federal level because it doesn’t make enough money for the people higher in power. The people who still call America the “land of the free and home of the brave” should really look back and think about if it really is. Ever since 2011 it’s become a land of the oppressed and home of the afraid.

  • Bobs your uncle April 25, 2019, 7:01 pm

    When I think of medical marijuana use, its used a lot of times with other drugs, Opiates and other narcotics for Cancer patients, does this new law make it lawful to operate heavy equipment and power tools as well? One of my best friends had a rare form of bone cancer no amount of drugs of any kind eased the pain for him.

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