Even in states where medical marijuana is legal under the relevant state law, it is still illegal under federal law. This conflict of law manifests in many ways, most recently in a directive in Hawaii, where medical marijuana users in Honolulu are being asked to voluntarily surrender any firearms they may own. Officials have given them 30 days to comply with this voluntary directive. While this may sound strange, according to a recent article from Task & Purposes, that is what the police are doing now that the state’s first medical marijuana dispensary opened a few months prior to this new plan.
According to the local police department, a state statute essentially says that a fugitive shall not own a firearm, and neither can any person who is prohibited from owing or possessing a firearm under a relevant federal statute. The felon in possession portion of the statute is present is in the criminal code of most if not every state’s criminal code, so this is not a new argument, but those using medical marijuana are not convicted felons for the reason of using medical cannabis. They may be convicted felons for other reasons, and if that is the case, there is no question they are not allowed to own or possess a firearm.
As our Orange County medical cannabis attorneys can explain, the second part of the statute is where it gets a bit murkier.
While this is their state law, the law in California goes somewhat further and says that a convicted person may not own a gun, and neither can a person who is addicted to a narcotic drug. This is pursuant to California Penal Code Chapter 2, Section 29800.
While marijuana is not generally considered to be physically addictive under state statutes and case law, federal government policy has approached it differently, resulting in archaic drug scheduling laws. As we can see, if a state wanted to try to keep guns from medical marijuana users, they might have a legal foot to do so, but that argument would not work out so well here, but the police in Honolulu are hoping they have better luck.
The argument they are making seems to be that marijuana use, even if state legal, falls under the federal prohibitions. It should be noted that those federal provisions in the statute are usually used to prevent those convicted of domestic violence offenses from owning a gun. There was however, a letter issued nearly eight years ago by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATFE) that says anyone who uses marijuana, even where legal under state law, is prohibited from owning a firearm.
While this may be a colorful argument, a letter is not a law and the federal government has not even touched the issue of banning firearms sales to a person using marijuana. This is because while there are some who are opposed to medical marijuana in Washington, including Attorney Generally Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, they are generally the same people that are backed by the NRA and are not about to support any law that infringes Second Amendment rights.
More Blog Entries:
Report: Medical Cannabis Nuns Selling Products on the Internet, May 14, 2017, by Cannabis Law Group