Cannabis Firearm Ownership
Cannabis Firearm Ownership is a topic that we have addressed on numerous occasions. We keep getting questions, so we thought that a definitive reference would be useful [see here] The starting point is that BATFE issued a notice on Sept. 21, 2011, which explicitly states that if an individual has a medical cannabis card, they are a prohibited person under 18 USC 922(g)(3). When buying a gun, question 11e on the ATF form asks, “Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana?
Answering yes makes you ineligible to purchase; falsely answering no is in principle punishable as perjury. This should not affect current gun owners.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Lynch v. Wilson held:
The panel affirmed the district court’s dismissal of a complaint challenging the federal statutes, regulations, and guidance that prevented plaintiff from buying a gun because she possesses a Nevada medical marijuana registry card. The panel preliminarily held that plaintiff lacked standing to challenge 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(3), which criminalizes possession or receipt of a firearm by an unlawful drug user or a person addicted to a controlled substance. Plaintiff had not alleged that she was an unlawful drug user or that she was addicted to any controlled substance. Nor had she alleged that she possessed or received a firearm. The panel further held that plaintiff’s remaining claims were not moot because she represented that she has routinely renewed her registry card.
The panel held that plaintiff’s Second Amendment claims did not fall within the direct scope of United States v. Dugan, 657 F.3d 998 (9th Cir. 2011), which held that the Second Amendment does not protect the rights of unlawful drug users to bear arms. Taking plaintiff’s allegations in her first amended complaint as true – that she chose not to use medical marijuana – the panel concluded that plaintiff was not actually an unlawful drug user.
The panel held that 18 U.S.C. § 922(d)(3), 27 C.F.R. § 478.11, and the Open Letter issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to federal firearms licensees, which prevented plaintiff from purchasing a firearm, directly burdened plaintiff’s core Second Amendment right to possess a firearm. Applying intermediate scrutiny, the panel nevertheless held that the fit between the challenged provisions and the Government’s substantial interest of violence prevention was reasonable, and therefore the district court did not err by dismissing the Second Amendment claim
On August 31, 2016 a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a challenge to this policy from a medical marijuana patient in Wilson v. Lynch. The opinion states:
“Wilson could have amassed legal firearms before acquiring a registry card, and [federal statutes] and the Open Letter would not impede her right to keep her firearms or to use them to protect herself and her home. In addition, Wilson could acquire firearms and exercise her right to self-defense at any time by surrendering her registry card, thereby demonstrating to a firearms dealer that there is no reasonable cause to believe she is an unlawful drug user.”
Cannabis Firearm Ownership
The BATFE Letter to Federal Firearms Licensees appears below.
The text of the Lynch v. Wilson opinion: