Demystifying Common Misconceptions
By: Ryan Ramsey
I get many questions and comments regarding fears that holding a concealed weapon and firearm permit in Florida, and also getting a medical cannabis card, could result in losing the right to own or purchase firearms.
In Florida, the Agriculture Commissioner who issues CWP’s also has a medical cannabis card. She is very open and public about it. A recent article full of misconceptions around the situation was recently published, and now is a good time to lay this out for my readers.
Holding a CWP and a medical marijuana card does NOT put you in conflict with state or federal law. Nothing surrounding the issue even relates to firearm ownership, the controversy noted in the article linked above is confined to purchases from dealers only.
There is also some troublesome language in the 1968 Gun Control Act, and I will explain why both are negated by unenforceability, both as a practical matter, and by Trump administration policy, which has dates back to the Obama regime.
I want to make it clear, I am not giving legal advice, but this is my understanding of the state and federal law, current policy, and practical matters surrounding the issue:
1) The violation discussed in the Herald-Tribune article about Nikki Fried only arises if you are presently consuming cannabis, purchase a firearm from a dealer, and lie about it on an ATF form 4473.
What risk do you face if you were to do so? In 2017, over 117,000 prohibited people, already criminals, tried to purchase firearms at FFL dealers. Only 12,700 were even investigated. Only 12 were actually prosecuted.
The idea that otherwise lawful citizens would be prosecuted for buying a firearm just for having a medical marijuana card is absurd, especially considering federal HIPPA law makes the information about who has an mmj card unavailable without a warrant.
2) If an individual formerly used cannabis, legally or not, and used it at a later date, legally or not, you could truthfully answer no to the question on the ATF 4473 form “Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana……”, and not be in any violation of federal law.
Furthermore such a prosecution would have to involve proving beyond a reasonable doubt the person was using cannabis at the time of purchase. If the feds have you under surveillance to catch you smoking cannabis on the way to purchase firearms, you have far bigger legal troubles looming than such a violation anyway.
It does not ask if you ever used it or ever will again. If you were prescribed it last year, used some for your pain or after a chemotherapy treatment, and you are not using cannabis now, but next May you have a recurrence and purchase cannabis, you can still truthfully answer no on the 4473 form. Thus, you would not violate federal law by purchasing a firearm from a licensed dealer.
Having a medical marijuana card allows you to legally purchase cannabis but many people do not purchase it regularly, and just want the ability to do so, as stated above, on an as-needed basis.
Mere possession of a medical cannabis card does not mean that you are an unlawful user of, or addicted to cannabis, (being addicted to cannabis is actually impossible).
They are not even prosecuting known violent criminals trying to illegally buy guns from dealers, the idea they would pursue such a case with all the above hoops to jump through is ridiculous, before you even consider item #6 below.
3) No federal law is violated in ANY private sale by holders of a medical marijuana card and a CWP. No federal law is violated by having both a medical marijuana card and a CWP.
The article is erroneous in stating finding both cards in your wallet at a shooting scene could subject you to prosecution. Local police, Sheriffs Deputies, or State LEO’s have no jurisdiction to arrest you under federal laws.
State law allows possession for mmj card holders, and explicitly exempts intoxicated persons from prosecution in a self defense shooting.
If you had cannabis in the same pocket as extra ammo, and if you have both a CWP and a medical marijuana card, any local, county, or state LEO has no crime to arrest you for.
If you are whacked out on edibles and shoot somebody negligently, you could be arrested for the same reason someone drunk on legal alcohol or high on prescription drugs might face prosecution for unlawful discharging of firearms while impaired/intoxicated under F.S. 790.155.
Nothing about a CWP, doctors prescription, or a medical marijuana card allows you to act irresponsibly, but again, holding a CWP and a cannabis card is inconsequential to such a situation.
4) The federal government would lose any prosecution based on claiming violation of the provision by a person who merely held a CWP and a medical marijuana card, and they KNOW it.
The result would be dismantling of huge areas of control for them and rescheduling of cannabis to schedule 2 or 3.
They have not and will not prosecute such a case for this reason. If they did the target would be a millionaire and national hero because citizens and private industry would flood them with cash for their defense and subsequent civil suits that would overturn the whole federal racket surrounding cannabis.
Rather than fear prosecution, freedom loving Americans should honestly hope to be the one picked to go down in the history books. I believe this is the reason our Agricultural Commissioner, Nikki Fried, is taunting the feds in the media. She is daring them to try it, hoping for fame and fortune.
5) Common sense would dictate you should not be intoxicated on anything when walking into a gun dealer and purchasing weapons.
Don’t use intoxicants of any kind while buying firearms from federally regulated gun dealers, legal or not. That makes you an idiot. Don’t be an idiot, and don’t lie on an ATF 4473 form, and you will not be in violation of the law.
6) Some cite language in the 1968 Gun Control Act and the ATF statements on the 4473 regarding lawful cannabis in the states not being recognized by federal law.
The ATF opinion or interpretations of the 1968 GCA are moot though, because the Justice Department has been ordered by the President not to investigate and prosecute lawful medical cannabis users in the states where legal, a policy also in force under Obama.
If they were to begin doing so, they would be raiding dispensaries and farms to make big asset forfeiture seizures for their coffers, not wasting resources over you and your edibles or small amounts of cannabis.
7) What if I shoot someone in self defense?
You are exempt from prosecution no matter what you are intoxicated on under Florida law if you shoot someone while defending yourself in public or defending your home (5):
790.151 Using firearm while under the influence of alcoholic beverages, chemical substances, or controlled substances; penalties.—
(1) As used in ss. 790.151-790.157, to “use a firearm” means to discharge a firearm or to have a firearm readily accessible for immediate discharge.
(2) For the purposes of this section, “readily accessible for immediate discharge” means loaded and in a person’s hand.
(3) It is unlawful and punishable as provided in subsection (4) for any person who is under the influence of alcoholic beverages, any chemical substance set forth in s. 877.111, or any substance controlled under chapter 893, when affected to the extent that his or her normal faculties are impaired, to use a firearm in this state.
(4) Any person who violates subsection (3) commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(5) This section does not apply to persons exercising lawful self-defense or defense of one’s property.
History.—s. 1, ch. 91-84; s. 1210, ch. 97-102.
8) Has there been a court case on the issue?
Yes, a woman was denied a dealer purchase because the dealer personally knew her and that she was an mmj user, and the dealer recently received an intimidation letter from the ATF on the subject.
- No investigation, arrest, or attempt was made to take her existing firearms.
- In fact she sued the feds, it was in the 9th Circuit, so not applicable to Florida.
- Even the notoriously liberal 9th Circuit ruling specifically cited her ownership of previously owned firearms as lawful in the civil suit, in its justification of the court’s ruling that denial of the purchase did not deprive her of her 2A rights.
- She said she wanted to make a statement in the suit, but it can be reasonably assumed had she simply went to another dealer who did not personally know her, the purchase would not have resulted in prosecution because the feds have no ability to determine who has an mmj card and even when she told on herself and sued them, no attempt was made to prosecute or disarm her.
- The burden of proof in a civil case is nothing like that in a criminal case. The ruling against her in this single purchase, in the matter of whether it was reasonable for the dealer to assume she was an unlawful user of marijuana based on the instructions furnished to him by the ATF – in no way means holders of a medical marijuana card could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to be users of illegal narcotics and convicted of lying on ATF form 4473, or under the 1968 GCA. If that was plausible, the Justice Department is still under orders not to initiate such prosecutions.
9) Do not fear losing your right to carry weapons and firearms if you chose to ditch big pharma for natural medicine.
Feel free to share this with the millions of people chained to big pharma for fear that switching to nature’s medicine would risk a revocation of any 2A rights.