Missouri residents want to know: Can you keep your guns if you have a medical marijuana card?
Legal access to medical marijuana is a godsend for many who suffer from chronic pain, anxiety, insomnia, cancer, and a long list of other qualifying conditions in Missouri. Many may be so relieved to finally have the natural relief they’ve needed, that they don’t even think about how having a marijuana card could possibly affect their other rights, including owning and purchasing guns.
The good news is that legislators in most states—Missouri included—intend to protect the residents who have put their trust into the medical marijuana program that generates tax revenue supporting important community, safety, and social programs. They want residents to feel confident in their state-sanctioned use of medical marijuana, and to know that they don’t have to give up their guns just because they are being honest and forthright about seeking treatment.
(See the end of this post for an important update.)
However, a divergence between state and federal laws complicates matters, and it’s important to know the status of current regulations if you intend to purchase guns (or even keep the ones you already have) while also being a Missouri medical marijuana cardholder.
At Missouri Marijuana Card, we want you to have the most up-to-date information about all things cannabis. Keep an eye on our blog for important updates, and feel free to give us a call at 877-303-3117 if you ever have any questions about the state medical marijuana program.
Having all the facts will help you make informed decisions when it comes to your health. Keep reading to learn what you need to know about how your Second Amendment rights and gun-ownership could be affected if you are a MO medical marijuana patient.
It’s Probable That Many Gun-Owners in MO Already Have a Medical Marijuana Card
As of the beginning of May, 2021, more than 100 thousand Missouri residents have registered with the Department of Health and Senior Services to participate in the state’s medical marijuana program. That’s more than two percent of the adult population. This means that if you have 10 friends 18 and over, 2.3 of them are likely enjoying cannabis to treat their conditions and symptoms right now.
While these numbers are impressive for a program in its early stages and riddled with controversy over its rollout, what’s even more significant is the number of gun-owners in Missouri. A full 48 percent of Missouri residents own a gun. So, 4.8 out of 10 friends.
Considering how much Missourians love their freedom, their guns, and their cannabis, we are willing to bet that there is a great deal of overlap between the gun-owners and Missouri medical marijuana card-holders. And considering that the patient registry has been open for two years, it is probable that patients have made new firearms purchases while they also had a medical marijuana card.
Cannabis and Guns: The Letter of the (Federal) Law
The Federal Position on Cannabis
State cannabis laws differ from federal cannabis laws in 36 states. That’s because the Federal Government does not recognize any situation in which marijuana should be considered legal. It is a Schedule I controlled substance, meaning that, according to the DEA, it has no known medical applications and a high potential for abuse.
States all over the US have exercised their independent rights, enacting the will of the people to legalize cannabis to varying degrees, recognizing its therapeutic uses, its relative safety, and its potential to bring in much-needed tax revenue.
Federal resources for enforcing marijuana prohibition are limited, and it is generally left up to the state to manage its own drug policing policies. This means that it is very difficult to enforce federal laws in states where cannabis is legal.
The Obama administration announced in 2013 that it would relax its approach to enforcement in states with new marijuana provisions, choosing to focus on the parts of the marijuana black market that could be damaging to communities. This included issues like distribution to minors, marijuana revenue that funds gangs, and “violence and firearm use in growing or distributing marijuana.”
The Trump administration reversed this policy, but it was largely symbolic. There are still limited resources to pursue federal marijuana law enforcement, especially when states will not cooperate.
The Federal Position on Guns and Controlled Substances
Anyone who is using a controlled substance illegally is federally prohibited from possessing a firearm. The Application for a Federal Firearms License (a form that must be completed for any purchase at a federally-licensed dealership) reads like this:
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.
Penalties for lying on this form are pretty hefty, with up to 10 years in prison and substantial fines.
By the way, if your dentist prescribes a narcotic like Vicodin for tooth pain, and you have a few leftover that you decide to keep around for back pain, you are using it illegally. But it’s easier to fly under the radar when there is no registry for people who have extra pain pills they keep around to give to relatives or use for something other than what they were prescribed for.
What Do Federal Cannabis and Gun Laws Mean for Medical Marijuana Cardholders in Missouri?
First of all, if you currently have a marijuana card, you can relax knowing that you are using cannabis within the limits of state law. The Federal Government is more interested in using its resources to enforce its laws with large-scale, societally-damaging operations than with Joe Smith who uses cannabis to treat his chronic pain.
If you are currently a marijuana cardholder and a gun-owner, you also probably have little to worry about. In 2017, the Honolulu Police Chief tried asking people to turn in their guns after getting approved for medical marijuana in Hawaii, but that campaign ended quickly.
The main issue with this is the fact that most medical marijuana programs require your information be kept private and inaccessible to any person or agency not involved in carrying out program rules. It appears that the police departments involved in the sending letters to marijuana cardholders who owned guns should not have been accessing the information in this manner in the first place.
The MO Medical Marijuana Patient Registry is Protected by HIPAA
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects your medical information, meaning that it is only accessible by the people you authorize. Other than the access required to authorize your purchases, your membership in the patient registry is mostly protected by HIPAA.
The one exception is for law enforcement officers to verify that your possession is legal if you get pulled over or are otherwise suspect.
You are Not Required to Register Your Guns in Missouri
The state of Missouri does not require you to register your guns. Even if you plan to carry them around with you. Local ordinances may have different regulations, but there is no state law that requires a license for people 19 and over.
This means that as long as you do not make a purchase at a federally-licensed dealership, no one will even know if you own a gun.
Missouri Legislators Have Not Made Second Amendment Protections for Marijuana Cardholders a Legislative Priority
House Bill 238 was introduced in 2019, HB 501 was introduced in 2020, and HB 198 was introduced in 2021. Each bill is the same as the others, and they aim to make it a Felony to share private information contained within the DHSS registry with any unauthorized third-party, including federal agencies.
All the bills are well-received, with strong Republican support. However, their momentum has previously petered out. There has been a great deal of recognition that the state generally operates as if medical marijuana registry information is between the patient and the doctor, but that these bills would put an extra “wall of protection” up for Missouri cardholders.
You are at Risk For Larger Problems if You Use Marijuana Illegally and Own Guns
Considering the state of widespread acceptance of legal marijuana use, having a marijuana card and a gun is less likely to get you into the kind of trouble you could be in if you own guns and use cannabis illegally.
The 1968 Gun Control Act targeted people who were dealing illegal drugs, but abuse of this law has been widespread. Law enforcement officers have been pretty notorious for searching out guns in homes where they found illegal cannabis. It can lead to a much stiffer sentence even if the two are not connected in any way.
However, a medical marijuana card *could potentially provide a level of protection as long as Federal Law Enforcement Officers are not involved.
Get a Missouri Marijuana Card for Legal Natural Relief
The main takeaway, here, is that while federal law prohibits gun-ownership when you have a marijuana card, most states are taking a very different approach as well as steps to protect patients in its registry.
The Federal Government generally depends on the cooperation of the states in order to enforce its cannabis laws; and states that have legalized cannabis in any form have made it clear they intend to support their patients. (Though in all fairness, the Federal Government is, as stated before, probably not interested in seeking out and punishing individuals using medical marijuana to treat their conditions anyway.)
At Missouri Marijuana Card, we are here to answer your questions, and our telehealth services are completely private and HIPAA compliant. Schedule an appointment today, to start legally getting the natural relief you deserve.
Update 5/27/2021 - The Missouri House has passed House Bills 85 and 310, making it a crime to try to enforce Federal gun laws for law-abiding citizens who have a medical marijuana card. The bills have been approved and are awaiting the signature of Governor Parson. Click here to read the full text of the new law.
*While every effort is made to ensure the accuracy and timeliness of the information contained in this article, it should not be construed as legal advice. We want to give you the best information as possible regarding all your concerns related to cannabis, but we are not attorneys. If you are possibly facing a legal issue related to marijuana, we advise you to contact an attorney who specializes in cannabis.
Doctors Who Care. Relief You Can Trust.
At Missouri Marijuana Card, our mission is helping everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.
Call us at (877) 303-3117, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!
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