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Can I Own a Firearm If I have a Medical Marijuana Card?

can I own a firearm if I have a medical marijuana license

In New Hampshire, the interplay between gun ownership and the use of medical marijuana presents legal complexities and potential risks. While marijuana is legally permissible for medical reasons, for those who have obtained a valid card from the State, it’s important to understand the legal implications of taking it and handling or even having firearms around medications.

New Hampshire State Law vs. Federal Regulations

While New Hampshire has legalized medical marijuana, it’s important to understand how state legalization intersects with federal law, especially concerning firearms ownership.

1. State Legalization of Medical Marijuana

New Hampshire allows the prescription of medical marijuana for patients with qualifying conditions. However, this state law does not supersede federal regulations that classify marijuana as a controlled substance.

2. Federal Law and Firearm Ownership

Under federal law, specifically the Gun Control Act of 1968, it is illegal for any person who is an “unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance” to ship, transport, receive, or possess firearms or ammunition. Marijuana, regardless of its legal status at the state level, remains a Schedule I controlled substance. Thus, under federal law, the possession of a firearm by someone who uses marijuana is prohibited.

The ATF and Firearm Possession

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) has clarified this legal standpoint. The ATF has issued guidelines stating that individuals who use marijuana, even if legally prescribed by state laws, are prohibited under federal law from possessing firearms and ammunition. This includes those holding a medical marijuana card.

Background Checks and Form 4473

When purchasing a firearm, all buyers must complete ATF Form 4473, which includes a question about the unlawful use of controlled substances. Answering falsely on this form is a federal offense and could lead to prosecution.

Why Handling Firearms While High Is Unsafe

Regardless of the legal aspects, handling firearms while under the influence of marijuana is inherently dangerous. Here are the reasons:

1. Impaired Judgment and Motor Skills

Marijuana use can impair motor skills, judgment, and reaction times. These impairments can make handling firearms dangerous, increasing the risk of accidental discharges or poor decision-making in critical situations.

2. Medical Marijuana and Cognitive Effects

Even when used for medical purposes, the psychoactive effects of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) — the primary intoxicating ingredient in marijuana — can impair an individual’s ability to operate a firearm safely. It is crucial for gun owners to be in a clear state of mind while handling firearms to ensure their safety and the safety of others around them.

Legal Implications and Risks

Owning a firearm while holding a medical marijuana card can lead to significant legal consequences, including but not limited to:

1. Federal Prosecution

While federal enforcement may vary, the risk of prosecution under federal law exists. Those found in violation of federal gun laws may face severe penalties, including fines and imprisonment.

2. Revocation of Gun Rights

If prosecuted under federal law for gun possession as an unlawful user of controlled substances, an individual could permanently lose their right to own or possess firearms.

How a Criminal Law Attorney Can Help

Given the complexities and risks associated with owning a firearm as a medical marijuana cardholder, consulting with a knowledgeable criminal law attorney is vital. Here’s how an attorney can assist:

1. Legal Guidance

An attorney can provide up-to-date legal advice regarding the possession of firearms while holding a medical marijuana card, helping you navigate the conflicting state and federal laws.

2. Representation

If you face charges related to firearms possession or any legal issues stemming from marijuana use, a criminal law attorney can represent your interests in court, offering defense strategies tailored to your specific case.

3. Compliance and Risk Management

An attorney can help you understand how to comply with both state and federal laws, potentially avoiding severe legal consequences. They can also advise on risk management strategies to maintain your rights and freedoms.

The intersection of firearms ownership and medical marijuana use is fraught with legal complexities and safety concerns. Under federal law, individuals using marijuana are prohibited from owning firearms, regardless of state laws allowing medical marijuana. Moreover, handling firearms under the influence of marijuana is unsafe and can lead to serious accidents or legal consequences. To navigate these complex legal waters, it is advisable to consult with a criminal law attorney who can provide guidance tailored to your particular circumstances, ensuring both compliance with the law and personal safety.

Our team at Cohen and Winters brings extensive experience advising clients on criminal legal matters and would be happy to talk with you to learn more about your situation. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Can I Own a Firearm If I have a Medical Marijuana Card

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