MMJ Licenses and Gun Licenses Don’t Mix in Ninth Circuit

Just because a half of the states in the union allow the sale of medical marijuana to holders of an MMJ card, doesn’t make it legal. In fact, under federal law, marijuana use is still illegal. However, the administration seems to have let this oversight go pretty much untouched, and there aren’t federal agents trolling the cities looking for pot smokers to put away. Yet, when the issue of another federal law gets thrown in the mix, a legal quagmire erupts. According to the federal government, the right to own a gun and possess an MMJ card are mutually exclusive.

Last week the 9th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives
(ATF) order to gun sellers not to sell firearms to those who possess a medical marijuana card, because cardholders meet the definition for “unlawful drug users.” The decision is in response to a Nevada case where a woman’s denial for a gun license was based on her possessing an MMJ card. The court in its decision said it was “reasonable for federal regulators to assume a medical marijuana cardholder was more likely to use the drug.”

It would seem the first issue to sort out is whose definition of “unlawful drug users” is correct, the state or federal government? The state of Nevada, and 25 more states, don’t consider marijuana an unlawful drug. The federal government, in this case the ATF, does consider it unlawful. And, since licensing a gun involves passing a federal background check, it would seem the fed control has the upper hand.

But, wait, there’s more…in the 9th Circuit case the only way the gun dealer knew the proposed buyer had a card was because she told him. There is no MMJ federal database that gun dealers check to comply with the law – it’s merely up to the applicant’s honest answering of any questions regarding marijuana use. Further, this case doesn’t even address a real medical marijuana user’s use, because the defendant doesn’t even partake, but merely got the card in an effort of solidarity in praise of medical marijuana’s positive legal status.

So, what did this decision tell us, other than possession of an MMJ card precludes gun ownership. Well, it tells us a couple of things. First, the federal judicial branch is not sympathetic to state laws where marijuana is legal. Second, the disconnect between laws is sure to spur similar legal controversy in other jurisdictions. With hot topics like guns and pot used in the same sentence, the state and federal divide on this issue may get larger, if not more convoluted.

Make your appointment with Medical Alternatives Clinics today to get your MMJ card.