Gun Ownership for MMJ Patients in Florida?

Can You Own a Gun with a Medical Card in Florida?

The current policy regarding medical marijuana patients purchasing firearms in Florida sits in a legal gray area. While nothing in Florida laws prohibits a medical marijuana cardholder from purchasing a gun, procuring a firearm is difficult for medical marijuana cardholders due to a requirement of the Firearms Transaction Record (ATF) form.

This federal form asks individuals buying a firearm to truthfully answer questions directly related to their use of a controlled substance, such as marijuana. The form states that marijuana possession remains unlawful under federal law regardless of state laws. Individuals who claim to be marijuana users, even for medical purposes, will not be permitted to buy guns. Therefore, medical marijuana cardholders in Florida may not be able to purchase firearms legally.

Can Florida Medical Cannabis Patients Legally Carry Firearms Without Permits?

Technically, pursuant to HB 543, adults, aged 21 or older, with medical marijuana cards and who also fulfill the requirements of Florida Statutes 790.06 are eligible to conceal carry without a permit.

Does Florida Require Background Checks for MMJ Patients Seeking Gun Licenses?

Anyone seeking a gun license in Florida must submit to a background check to be completed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). However, MMJ patients are allowed to purchase firearms under current laws. Therefore, background checks will not be required for MMJ patients due to their marijuana status.

Can You Get a Florida Medical Marijuana Card After Getting a Gun License?

You can get a Florida medical marijuana card after getting a gun license. However, it is still illegal to hold both licenses and doing so may lead to federal prosecution if caught. You can purchase a gun in Florida without fear of legal repercussions once you are no longer registered under the Florida medical cannabis program. Since you no longer have an active medical marijuana card, you can truthfully claim to not be an unlawful user of marijuana on the ATF 4473 form when purchasing a firearm from a licensed dealer.

Legal History of Gun Ownership for MMJ Patients in Florida

Although federal law bans MMJ patients from purchasing firearms, Florida continues to challenge this stance, hoping to bring reprieve to patients registered under its medical cannabis program seeking to buy firearms. Nikki Fried, the erstwhile Florida Agriculture Commissioner, and two other plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in April 2022 challenging federal prohibitions on medical marijuana patients registered under the Florida medical cannabis program from purchasing and possessing guns and maintaining concealed-carry permits.

Nikki Fried argues that the United States Department of Justice's regulations against firearms ownership for registered qualifying medical marijuana patients violate their rights under the Second Amendment. However, in November 2022, the case was dismissed by Allen Winsor, a United States District Court judge, in a 22-page ruling.

Although an appeal was filed, the current Commissioner of Agriculture, Wilton Simpson, backed out of the lawsuit in early 2023, stating that more pressing issues need to be addressed in the state than gun ownership rights for medical marijuana patients. Regardless, the matter remains pending in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. The outcome of the Fried v. Garland case in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals may have wider implications on gun possession rights for MMJ patients in Florida and across the nation.

What Federal Law Says About the Firearm Rights of Medical Marijuana Users

According to the Federal Gun Control Act of 1968, owning or possessing a firearm is illegal for persons considered to be unlawful users of marijuana or addicts of the drug. Although a medical marijuana user may claim not to be a marijuana addict, the United States Controlled Substances Act classifies marijuana as illegal status and does not recognize its uses for medicinal purposes. Hence, medical marijuana users are recognized as unlawful users of marijuana under federal law. In 2011, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) issued a letter to licensed gun sellers in the nation, noting that medical marijuana users may not be allowed to purchase firearms.

Many gun rights proponents have argued that the Gun Control Act and the BAFTE rule are unconstitutional. Specifically, in the Wilson v. Lynch case, the plaintiff asserted that federal laws restricting firearms possession for MMJ patients infringed on the gun rights afforded citizens under the Second Amendment. However, the 9th United States Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a federal law prohibiting the sale of firearms to medical cannabis users.

Following the Court of Appeals ruling, the BATFE required all potential gun owners to indicate their cannabis status on the ATM Form 4473. Since marijuana remains a Schedule I narcotic, medical marijuana users who indicate "yes" to marijuana use on the form will be categorized as illegal users and denied access to firearms. An MMJ patient who denies their cannabis status risks a perjury charge.

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