Maryland Gun Owners Forced to Choose Between Firearms and Medical Marijuana


Medical marijuana users in Maryland will have to give up their guns. (Photo: Baltimore Sun)

Twenty-nine states have legalized access to medical marijuana since California took the plunge in 1996. Maryland is the most recent to join the list. But now its residents must decide between treating their illness and keeping their firearms.

Unfortunately, many marijuana users don’t realize they need to make a choice, Mark Pennak, president of the gun-rights group Maryland Shall Issue, told the Baltimore Sun.

“This state hasn’t been very active with putting people on notice,” he said. “I think the states really ought to be warning people … who are about to get their medical marijuana cards that they’re about to lose their rights under federal law.”

It is illegal under federal law to own a firearm while taking medical marijuana. But as states continue to legalize both medical and recreational use of the drug, gun owners find themselves caught between state and national policies governing drugs and firearms.

The Honolulu Police Department recently issued a letter to approximately 30 gun owners and marijuana users demanding that they turn in their firearms. The HPD has since backed down from enforcing that policy. But it shows how marijuana cards and gun registries can combine to restrict an individual’s constitutional rights. (Hawaii residents must register all firearms.)

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.

One solution frequently cited would treat medical marijuana use like alcohol. No shooting when you’re high.

“You don’t drink when you’re using firearms,” Former state Del. Mike Smigiel told the Sun. “I don’t know that it’s any different.”

Whatever the states decide to do, gun owners need to understand how their medical decisions might affect their Second Amendment rights. According to Pennak, Maryland needs to do a better job clarifying those questions.

“I just want people to be aware,” Pennak, a former Justice Department lawyer, told the Sun. “There’s so many ins and outs to gun laws, so many pitfalls and traps, this is probably one that’s easily overlooked.”

“The prosecutor is not your friend,” he said. “Don’t think he’s going to give you a break because you’re a good guy.”

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

{ 16 comments… add one }
  • alex January 13, 2018, 9:38 pm

    if we ever get another communist as president we’ll either lose our guns or have a civil war,it all depends on how hard we the people fight back.

  • Sean January 12, 2018, 11:17 pm

    Next thing that will happen, that if you have alcohol in your house, they will come and confiscate your guns…. then if you eat burritos, they will come and confiscate guns, then they just come get them,,,, that what the libtards want to do do anyway

  • Altoid January 12, 2018, 1:09 pm

    Those anti-2A rights politicians are willing to use any excuse to remove firearms from private hands. Wait for the “have you ever” questions on the 4473 to include “Have you ever received a traffic citation”.
    A 35 year old ticket for 10 mph over the speed limit will be cause for disqualification for owning a firearm.
    Wait for it….

  • Keith January 12, 2018, 1:06 pm

    It is amazing that some states will enforce federal law on somethings but not others.

  • joefoam January 12, 2018, 8:30 am

    As noted in previous posts, the legalization of medicinal or recreational pot is sold by showing the revenue that could be generated. I’d rather not have the revenue than have stoned drivers on my roads killing me and my family like drunk drivers do.

    • Cea January 12, 2018, 10:57 am

      I’m with you, joefoam!
      We already have enough goofballs out on the roads (and, just hanging “around”). We don’t need a bunch of dop heads killing people while they are just exercising their “right”. Right to do what? Endanger any and everyone they happen to go near?
      I was once asked to sign a petition to get the crap legalized. I told the bum looking hippy…”No, I don’t think it should be legal! I think that it should be legal to “take out” any doper or drunk, before they can hurt or kill some innocent person on the street!”
      He threw me a few f-bombs and went on his way…

    • Maine January 12, 2018, 11:11 am

      Do you take any prescription? Should you lose your gun right because your sick and my need that pitcular medication?

      “Stop taking you blood pressure medication or lose your gun rights”
      Sound dumb! I agree but how is that any different?

      What about pain killer? They alter your mind. They don’t make that a big deal when you buy guns.

      How about this, do you drink? Why should that be a reason why you can’t buy a firearm?

    • Wow January 12, 2018, 11:43 pm

      Wow the glaring ignorance, I’m surprised you didn’t call it devil lettuce bwahahahahha.

  • Brian January 12, 2018, 8:20 am

    Here in Illinois we need a Fire Owners Identification Card (FOID) to purchase and own firearms and ammunition. A registered card is required for medical marijuana. I was told that if I wanted marijuana for my fibromyalgia that they wouldn’t make me turn in my firearms but the State won’t renew my FOID. Hey Korwin, gun/owner registration and then cross referencing to make me a criminal even though I haven’t broken any laws.

  • Josh January 12, 2018, 7:21 am

    This is insane. What about all the people hooked on anti depressants or even pain killers? Those are the ones who usually loose their minds and go on killing sprees.
    Marijuana is not a drug. Saying it is is like saying God made a mistake. The medical benefits are well documented.

    Legalise Freedom. If there is no victim there is no crime.

  • Norm Fishler January 12, 2018, 6:52 am

    Not such a tough choice is it? Granted the powers that be have way over extended the scope of their power, but what’s so unusual about that? Send them their damn card back and live without it!

  • Blue Dog January 10, 2018, 6:14 pm

    It is prudent to deny the right to own firearms to those using mind-altering substances known to promote paranoia. And the best part is that there is already the legal basis to deny these marijuana enthusiasts their firearms! The question is even on the 4473!
    In my youth, I liked to think that I was open to the idea of decriminalising marijuana but eventually I came to the conclusion that any argument you could make for decriminalising marijuana worked even better for decriminalising prostitution. Even medicinal prostitution is not without merit. When the US eventually moves over to single-payer, you could have governmentally-funded medicinal prostitutes! But I digress – keep the devilweed outlawed.
    And don’t tell me about tax revenue from marijuana – the public shouldn’t have to purchase liberties by sacrificing at the altar of tax revenue.

    • Bob January 12, 2018, 7:11 am

      Well a mind altering substance that has been known to cause it’s users to lose their grip on reality has been legal for a long time. People under the influence of alcohol have been known to completely lose control and kill their friends, spouses, children or even strangers. Psychoactive prescription drugs have also been linked to dozens if not hundreds of murders and nearly all mass shootings. I’m not going to take the time to chase down the numbers on my phone but I’m pretty sure that if you take the time to do it, you’re going to find that there have been very few murders linked to people that exclusively used the “Devil weed”. It’s really a moot point, as long as it’s illegal at the federal level and feds also control guns, you can’t buy guns if you use an illegal drug. Personally it doesn’t affect me but facts are facts.

  • Mark N. January 10, 2018, 12:24 am

    As long as marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug, you cannot purchase firearms without lying on the 4473. Maybe it shouldn’t be a Schedule 1 drug, but that is a question only Congress can address. Meanwhile, there are alternatives to marijuana, such as CBD oil, a hemp derivative that is not psychoactive and not a banned substance but is used to treat pain, as well as prescription pain relievers that are not Schedule 1 drugs.

    • Sepp W January 10, 2018, 3:58 pm

      These anti-gun states are gaming the system. Since Marijuana is illegal at the federal level and these liberal states that have decriminalized it are using federal law to confiscate guns; down right dirty and duplicitous.
      HI recently went down the same road.
      The liberals and “anti-gun” apparatchiks have figured out how to confiscate some firearms without being challenged with due process.

  • Sepp W January 9, 2018, 7:24 pm

    Can’t have your cake and eat it too! Marylanders will figure it out one day their dystopia isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

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