Can I possess a gun and have a medical marijuana card?

If you use marijuana, you cannot possess firearms or ammunition. Any person using marijuana, regardless of its legality under state law, is an unlawful user of a controlled substance under federal law, and is prohibited by federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition.

In September 2011, the ATF issued an open letter to all federal firearms licensees, which states that:

  • Federal statute prohibits anyone who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance, including marijuana, from shipping, transporting, receiving or possessing firearms or ammunition.
  • Anyone who uses marijuana, regardless of its legality under state law, must answer “yes” to 11.e on ATF Form 4473. Lying by answering “no” is a federal felony.
  • It is illegal for a federal gun dealer to sell a person a gun or ammunition if they have reasonable cause to believe that person uses marijuana, and having a medical marijuana card is reasonable cause.

If you are a caregiver who does not use marijuana, while you are not subject to this prohibition, you still must be cautious if you are also a gun owner. If you are non-compliant with the medical marijuana laws, you could potentially face criminal charges. If you are charged with a felony then you risk being charged with felony firearm. If convicted of felony firearm, you will serve a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison consecutively to any sentence imposed for the underlying felony. All the government has to prove to convict you of this charge is that the gun was “reasonably accessible” to the commission of the felony. For example, if you possess even one more plant than you are allowed under state law, you could potentially be charged with the felony of manufacturing marijuana. If a gun was reasonably accessible to the location of your grow room, then you are at risk being charged with and convicted of felony firearm.