Medical Marijuana and Guns Don’t Mix in Florida
In 2016, Florida voters changed the state constitution making medical marijuana legal. Following other states, Florida will require patients to obtain a medical marijuana card from their doctor.
Although medical cannabis is now legal in Florida, the change does not alter federal law which classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, thus making its users prohibited from owning, possessing or using firearms.
Florida Gun Lawyer is receiving questions from concerned gun owners as to how their rights may be impacted. Until a Florida court or federal court covering our jurisdiction rules on the matter, all we can do is look to what other courts have said on the issue.
In 2016, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, covering nine western states, held that you can’t buy a gun if you have a medical marijuana card. The appellate court agreed with guidelines from the ATF that firearms sellers should assume that medical marijuana card holders use the drug. The Form 4473, the federal form every purchaser of a firearm from an FFL must complete, specifically asks whether the purchaser is an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance. Since marijuana is a controlled substance under federal law answering yes to this question will lead to a purchase denial. If you answer no, and have a state-issued medical marijuana card, then you run the risk of a perjury charge as well as being a prohibited person in possession of the firearm.
Here is the letter the ATF sent to all FFLs in 2011 when states first started legalizing medical marijuana. No further guidance has been issued since.
I anticipate that law-abiding yet unassuming individuals will get ensnared in the trap between state and federal law. An interesting point that proponents of medical cannabis make is the inconsistency between the use of medical pot and other addictive drugs that are prescribed by doctors such as opioids. Our nation is facing an opioid addiction crisis, yet as long as those drugs are prescribed by a doctor they do not prohibit firearms ownership. Is the distinction valid as more and more states approve the use of medical marijuana?
As often in politics, this debate creates strange bedfellows aligning the gun community with the pro medical pot community. Until we have guidance from a court in our jurisdiction (my hunch is that the 11th US Circuit will follow the logic of the 9th Circuit) gun owners should be VERY cautious before obtaining a Florida medical marijuana card.