In November 2018, the state of Missouri legalized the use of medical marijuana for qualified patients. Since then, over 100,000 patients have registered to use medical marijuana to relieve symptoms of diseases such as cancer, glaucoma, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder, and several other chronic illnesses. Yet, many qualified patients may be hesitant to apply because of questions regarding gun ownership. Can you own a gun with a Missouri medical marijuana card? What are Missouri’s medical marijuana firearm laws? How do federal laws affect gun ownership while holding a medical marijuana card? There is not an easy black and white answer to these questions; instead, there is a gray area yet to be determined by the courts.
Can Missouri medical marijuana patients legally own a gun?
In June 2021, Governor Mike Parson signed House Bill 85–the Second Amendment Preservation Act– into law. While this law does not directly address medical marijuana use, it does prevent law enforcement from cooperating with federal agents when a Missouri citizen’s 2nd Amendment rights are being violated. So what does that mean for medical marijuana patients and caregivers?
Medical marijuana is legal for qualified patients in Missouri, but marijuana-whether medicinal or recreational–is still considered an illegal substance according to federal law. According to the Reason Foundation, “The federal Gun Control Act (GCA) of 1968 states that no ‘unlawful user’ of a controlled substance, such as cannabis, shall be allowed to purchase or own firearms. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) has reaffirmed several times that it still considers medical cannabis to be an illegal substance, as defined by the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) of 1970, and therefore designates anyone with a medical marijuana card as ineligible to purchase or own firearms.” Missouri’s Second Amendment Preservation Act asserts that the state, not the Federal Government, should determine who is considered a “law-abiding citizen.” Since medical marijuana is legal in Missouri, medical marijuana patients and caregivers are “law-abiding citizens,” and therefore, their Second Amendment rights should be protected under the U.S. Constitution.
Can federal gun regulations be enforced on Missouri residents who are medical marijuana patients?
Basically, put in everyday terms, Missouri laws say that gun ownership is legal for medical marijuana patients and caregivers. According to the Reason Foundation, “Missouri has already chosen to designate medical marijuana patients as legal under state law, and this bill asserts Missouri’s 10th Amendment constitutional right to make that designation over the federal government.” The Second Amendment Preservation Act imposes harsh punishments on local and state law enforcement agencies and officers who violate this new law, including fines up to $50,000.
Despite Missouri’s firm stance on this issue, medical marijuana users who own a gun are still in violation of federal laws, and, unfortunately, there are still obstacles to overcome when it comes to gun ownership for medical marijuana patients. For instance, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives explicitly asks on the Firearms Transaction Record, “Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance? Warning: The use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under Federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medicinal or recreational purposes in the state where you reside.” Even though Missouri has legalized medical marijuana use and taken steps to protect patients’ Second Amendment rights, patients can still be charged with perjury for lying on the Firearms Transaction Record.
Furthermore, this issue also brings into question established gun owners who apply for medical marijuana approval. As long as no new firearm transactions are made, are patients allowed to keep their existing guns? Additionally, critics have pointed out the inequity when considering recreational marijuana users who are purchasing marijuana illegally yet refuse to disclose that during a firearm purchase.
This conundrum is not unique to Missouri residents. Currently, 36 states have legalized medicinal marijuana use. Notably, Mississippi has recently passed legislation similar to Missouri’s Second Amendment Preservation Act. It seems inevitable that more legislation will need to be passed to protect gun owners’ rights as well as their rights to medicinal marijuana use. Citizens can expect to see more court battles played out on the state and federal levels in the future. Meanwhile, medical marijuana patients who are currently gun owners or considering gun ownership should consult an experienced attorney who can provide legal advice.
Becoming a Medical Marijuana Patient or Caregiver
If you are considering becoming a medical marijuana patient or caregiver, Releaf Clinics offers a streamlined process for obtaining a physician’s approval and applying for medical marijuana use in the state of Missouri. Services are safe, secure, and discreet. For more information on how to become a medical marijuana patient in Missouri, see the article “How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Missouri.”
Disclaimer: This article is not written by an attorney and is not intended to provide legal advice. Consult a qualified attorney if you have any questions concerning your rights as a medical marijuana patient or firearms owner in Missouri.