The short answer is no, they don’t mix, but the truth is it’s a very complicated issue with a lot of controversy. What I’m going to present here are legal facts, what we know right now.
For starters, lets acknowledge the fact that nobody should ever mix intoxicating substances with firearms. Whether that be weed, alcohol, prescription drugs, over the counter medications or any other illegal drug. If it causes you to be impaired to the slightest, you should not drive or handle firearms while under the influence.
It’s illegal federally so it’s illegal everywhere, right?
Federal law lists marijuana (cannabis) on schedule one of the Controlled Substances Act. This means its status with the federal government is illegal to possess, use, sell and transport. Substances listed on schedule one have no known medical benefit, according to the FDA, and therefore, no legal use. (US Code Title 21, Chapter 13, Subchapter 1.)
Federal law also states that a person “who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802)” is prohibited from possessing a firearm, and therefore is a prohibited possessor. It also states that it is “unlawful for any person to sell or otherwise dispose of any firearm or ammunition to any person knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that such person” is a prohibited possessor. (18 U.S. Code § 922)
So, federally speaking, it’s pretty clear cut. Federal law is the supreme law of the land and is enforceable in all 50 states (U.S. Const. Art.VI, Cl. 2)
What about Arizona Law? Don’t we have protections?
In AZ, the law is different though. According to Arizona law, being a user of a controlled substance does not make you a prohibited possessor (ARS 13-3101).
Even still, AZ law requires that “the applicant is currently not a prohibited possessor under state or federal law.” when applying for a Concealed Weapons Permit. (ARS 13-3112).
Arizona law doesn’t generally mention marijuana, either medical or recreational, legal or illegal as it relates to firearms ownership and possession. So, citing Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA) is moot, but it can be found here (ARS Title 36, Chapter 28.1).
Having an MMJ Card does not exempt you from Federal Law, it’s merely a Hall Pass from state prosecution as long as you adhere to every requirement in AMMA.
Proposition 207 in AZ legalized the Recreational use of Marijuana in AZ (once it is certified, codified, and takes effect). This does nothing to change federal law which still prohibits anyone who is a user of marijuana from posessing firearms.
What about that case with the 9th circuit?
In Wilson V. Lynch the courts ruled in favor of an FFL refusing to sell a firearm to a person with a Medical Marijuana Card. This is because it is illegal for a any person to sell or otherwise dispose of any firearm or ammunition to any person knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that such person is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance. (18 U.S. Code § 922) If the FFL knows that someone has a Medical Marijuana Card, that certainly is a reason to believe they are a user.
Can you have Medical Marijuana Card and not be a user of MMJ?
Certainly! Can you have a gym membership and not go to the gym? Simply having the card doesn’t make someone a prohibited possessor, however, it is certainly reasonable cause to believe one is a user. The prosecution would still have to prove in court that one was in fact a user of marijuana.
What makes someone a “user” then?
That’s really left up to the jury to decide. If someone used it once 26 years ago, vs. someone is currently under the influence, obviously one of those is more easily defendable in court.
The feds use this rather confusing definition:
“Unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance. A person who uses a controlled substance and has lost the power of self-control with reference to the use of controlled substance; and any person who is a current user of a controlled substance in a manner other than as prescribed by a licensed physician. Such use is not limited to the use of drugs on a particular day, or within a matter of days or weeks before, but rather that the unlawful use has occurred recently enough to indicate that the individual is actively engaged in such conduct. A person may be an unlawful current user of a controlled substance even though the substance is not being used at the precise time the person seeks to acquire a firearm or receives or possesses a firearm. An inference of current use may be drawn from evidence of a recent use or possession of a controlled substance or a pattern of use or possession that reasonably covers the present time, e.g., a conviction for use or possession of a controlled substance within the past year; multiple arrests for such offenses within the past 5 years if the most recent arrest occurred within the past year; or persons found through a drug test to use a controlled substance unlawfully, provided that the test was administered within the past year. For a current or former member of the Armed Forces, an inference of current use may be drawn from recent disciplinary or other administrative action based on confirmed drug use, e.g., court-martial conviction, nonjudicial punishment, or an administrative discharge based on drug use or drug rehabilitation failure.”(27 CFR § 478.11)
What if my wife has a MMJ card and uses MMJ, can I still own guns?
Absolutely! She simply cannot possess firearms while she is a user. Which means generally she cannot exercise control and dominion over them. Generally speaking, the accepted practice is to keep them on one’s person, or in a safe where the prohibited person does not have access to them. Think about which is easier in court to prove that they didn’t possess the gun, a gun left on the other nightstand, or one locked in a safe?
In AZ, under federal laws, weed and guns don’t mix, and if one is a user of Marijuana, medical or otherwise, one would not eligible to receive an AZ CCW. On the application for a CCW it asks you to indicate whether or not you are a user of a controlled substance. Remember, lying on a government form, like the CCW Application or Form 4473, is a crime in and of itself. (18 USC § 1001) (ARS 13-2704).
If you are a user of MMJ, and/or have more questions regarding your rights, talk to an attorney like Marc Victor at Attorney’s for Freedom.
Yes, according to the letter issued by the US Department of Justice on August 29, 2013, they are not prioritizing any prosecution of Medical Marijuana Users. This prioritization doesn’t make being a user of marijuana, and possessing firearms any less illegal in the eyes of the federal government.
**This is provided as a Legal Information Resource and should not be treated as legal advice.