Despite the classic stereotypical image in the mainstream media of the peace loving hippie stoner, there are quite a few people who exercise their constitutional right to bear arms within the cannabis community, including patients and professionals. Most people would agree that obtaining both in the safest and most legal of ways is always preferable to whatever the alternative might be, but that’s actually now easier said than done in many places. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has a long history of prohibiting gun and ammunition sales to unlawful users of cannabis. Last year, the federal agency added a warning to the Firearms Transaction Record, Form 4473, making it clear to all those applying for a permit to buy a firearm that cannabis remains illegal under federal law and using it means you are not allowed to purchase a gun, despite laws in a growing number of states that allow both medical and recreational use of cannabis.
The language, added in 2016 to Form 4473, raised concerns that the government is unfairly denying cannabis users their Second Amendment right to bear arms and has inspired medical and recreational cannabis advocates and activists to begin lobbying for more changes in federal law to match the country’s ever evolving views on marijuana. The passage of Florida Constitutional Amendment 2 in November 2016 paved the way to widespread use of medical cannabis in the state, but a September federal court ruling bans users of the cannabis plant from purchasing guns.
An appeals court ruled that a federal law prohibiting medical cannabis recommendation holders from purchasing firearms is not in violation of their Second Amendment rights, because they believe cannabis has been linked to “irrational or unpredictable behavior.” The ruling came in the case of a Nevada woman who attempted to purchase a handgun in 2011, but was denied when the gun store owner recognized her as a medical marijuana patient, according to court documents. S. Rowan Wilson maintained that she didn’t actually use cannabis, but obtained the doctor’s rec to make a socio-political statement supporting cannabis legalization laws in the state of Nevada.
Federal law prohibits the purchase of firearms by an “unlawful user and/or an addict of any controlled substance.” In 2011, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms clarified in a letter that the law applies to all cannabis users “regardless of whether their State of residence has passed legislation authorizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes.” Though a growing number of states are legalizing the plant for medical and recreational use, cannabis still technically remains illegal for any purpose under federal law, where the drug is considered to have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use.
Patrick Ian Moore