Can I Still Get a Medical Marijuana Card if I Own a Gun?
Important Note: While we fact-checked the accuracy of this article, its content should not be considered legal advice or an adequate substitution for a consultation with an attorney. If you think your rights as a marijuana patient and a gun owner are being violated, we encourage you to seek professional legal counsel. Click here for a list of Texas attorneys specializing in marijuana law.
People who have experienced the relief you can know only after you get a Texas Marijuana Card tend to love their card and love their medicine.
But Texans also love their guns, which raises an important question: Does getting your Texas Marijuana Card in any way impact or limit your Second Amendment rights?
Unfortunately for now, the answer to that question isn’t always 100% clear, but fortunately, there is reason to believe things are changing for the better.
Current Situation for Texas Gun Owners Who Want a Medical Marijuana Card Can Appear Discouraging
Currently, marijuana users are Federally prohibited from owning firearms.
The Federal government classifies marijuana as a schedule 1 controlled substance, meaning it is considered to be highly addictive with no medicinal value. In other words, the Federal government doesn’t distinguish in any meaningful way between medical marijuana and cocaine or heroin.
But beyond perpetuating harmful stereotypes about marijuana and marijuana users, this schedule 1 status means medical marijuana users are legally forbidden to own a gun thanks to the Controlled Substances Act.
According to the letter of Federal law, it doesn’t matter that 36 states have medical marijuana markets. And it doesn’t matter if you’re in compliance with Texas’ gun and marijuana laws. If you use marijuana, the Feds say no guns for you, and breaking that law could land you up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
But Don’t Despair Yet; Federal Law Enforcement Isn’t Seeking Out Citizens Who Are Abiding by State Laws
We’d never encourage you to break the law, but there is very little risk of getting caught having both a Texas Marijuana Card and your guns.
Access to the CUP Registry is Strictly Limited
The text of the law that created Texas’ Compassionate Use Program (CUP) makes it very clear who can access the registry of Texas Marijuana Card holders and why and who cannot.
According to the law, the CUP registry is accessible to law enforcement agencies only “for the purpose of verifying whether a patient is one for whom low-THC cannabis is prescribed and whether the patient's prescriptions have been filled.” They simply cannot access the registry just to determine if you’re a gun owner who also uses marijuana.
Of course it isn’t Texas law enforcement that’s the real concern, is it? After all, we’ve legalized medical marijuana, and the CUP law doesn’t even mention guns, so you know you’re ok on the state level.
But what about Federal law enforcement?
Federal Law Enforcement is Uninterested in Policing Americans Who are Complying with Their States’ Marijuana Laws
Yes, the Feds say you can’t have guns and use marijuana, but they probably will never know if you do, and they’re unlikely to care if they do find out so long as you’re complying with Texas law.
To the first point, that the Feds will probably never know if you both use marijuana and own guns, Federal law enforcement couldn’t access the CUP registry to learn about you unless they had a warrant enabling them to do so.
And to get that warrant, the authorities would have to already have evidence that a specific Texan both owned a gun and was a medical marijuana patient before they could access the registry to prove that Texan was in violation of Federal gun laws.
But more importantly, as long as you’re staying out of trouble otherwise, the Feds aren’t really interested in your marijuana use.
In fact, the Justice Department has not targeted people who use medical marijuana legally in their respective states since 2013, because they know there is a good chance such cases won’t be successful.
Cases where Federal and State laws conflict can get complicated, lessening the likelihood of conviction. Further, Federal prosecutors can’t rely on support from the state level when they’re pursuing cases that aren’t consistent with the laws of the state in question. And no help from local law enforcement, in the form of personnel and/or funding, again means less chance of conviction.
So if you’re a gun owner and a Texas Marijuana Card holder, so long as you don’t run afoul of the Federal government or break related laws in Texas, you’re likely not going to draw attention as you use your medicine and exercise your Constitutional rights.
What if I Want to Buy a Gun for the First Time? Won’t I Have to File Paperwork with the Federal Government?
Yes, in order to buy a gun from a Federally-licensed dealer, you have to submit paperwork to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
And yes, as part of that paperwork you have to answer the question, “Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?”
And yes, as far as the Feds are concerned, whether you have a Texas Marijuana Card or not, you’re an unlawful user of marijuana. The Federal government doesn’t recognize any marijuana users as lawful users, as they remind you right on the form: “Warning: 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.”
What if I Just Lie on the Federal Firearms Transaction Records Form?
You could do that, and hope that the confidential nature of the CUP registry protects you from being found out, just like current gun owners who roll the dice and get their Texas Marijuana Cards.
But be warned: Lying on a Federal form such as the Firearms Transaction Record is perjury, and you would face a hefty fine and up to five years in prison if you got caught.
What About Private Gun Sales?
If you’re buying a gun at a gun show or from a private citizen, you sidestep the need for the Firearms Transaction form and can therefore get that gun without risking perjury charges.
However, you’d still be breaking Federal law by owning that gun while being a marijuana user, and you’d still be facing up to five years in prison if you should get caught.
So That’s It? I Have to Choose Between My Guns and My Medicine?
We want you to be fully aware of those risks you are taking should you choose to get a medical marijuana card and own a firearm, so you can decide what is worthwhile to you.
While there are severe punishments from the Federal Government for owning a gun and using marijuana, the Feds are not currently pursuing any marijuana-related charges against citizens who are in compliance with their respective states’ marijuana laws.
Nor have they been pursuing such charges for almost ten years now. It seems highly unlikely that an administration would now prosecute gun owners whose only crime is lawfully using medicine.
Positive Change Seems to be Coming for Marijuana and Gun Laws
So the good news is that even though gun owners who use medical marijuana are potentially placing themselves in legal jeopardy, the odds of there being any consequences for their “crime” is remote.
And the better news is that change is already visible on the horizon.
First, there are actions being taken in some states to bring Federal gun laws into the twenty-first century. For example, consider Minnesota, where Republican and Democratic lawmakers have been working together to protect medical marijuana users’ gun rights. And those legislators are looking to examples from other states that have been tackling the same issue.
There are also signs of change at the Federal level. Most recently, U.S. Representative Rodney Davis, of Illinois, introduced the Gun Rights and Marijuana Act, which would end the Federal prohibition on gun ownership for medical marijuana patients.
And while it will be a long time before anything comes of Davis’ bill, if anything ever does, just think about the kind of change this represents. Up until a little more than 20 years ago, the Federal government was working to squash states’ medical marijuana markets.
Now Federal attorneys have been directed not to squander resources prosecuting lawful marijuana users, and a conservative Congressman is introducing a bill to support marijuana users’ rights.
Change has come, and more is on the way.
But We’re Here for You While the Law Catches Up to Medical Science
So technically, for now anyway, gun owners have to choose between lawfully using their medicine or lawfully owning guns, and there is technically no middle ground.
But until that changes (and we think it will definitely, eventually change), your odds of facing prosecution just for taking medicine and practicing your Second Amendment rights are mostly dependent on whether you are abiding by the law in other ways.
Furthermore, until that day of change comes, we’ll be here to keep you updated on all of the news and developments in the world of medical marijuana, including those developments that might impact your rights as a gun owner.
Whenever you decide the time is right for you to find out what relief medical marijuana might offer you, you can reserve an evaluation with one of our knowledgeable, compassionate doctors. If you sign up today, you’ll get $25 off your appointment!
We’ll book a telemedicine appointment for you with your doctor so that you can discuss your condition over your computer or smartphone and decide together what the best treatment options are for you. You can begin finding the relief only medical marijuana can provide, all without even leaving your home!
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