With the passing of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act in 2008, people in Michigan who use medical marijuana within the bounds of that law are protected from prosecution in Michigan courts. The same does not hold true for the federal courts, however. Marijuana use—even for medical purposes—is still completely illegal under federal law. As one might imagine, this can cause a number of confusing situations in different areas of the law. One of these areas is the right to possess firearms.
The federal statute numbered 18 U.S.C. §922(g) prohibits certain classes of individuals from shipping, transporting, receiving, or possessing firearms or ammunition. One of those classes includes people who are unlawful users of, or addicted to, any controlled substance. Under the federal drug scheduling laws, marijuana is classified as an illegal Schedule 1 controlled substance. Until recently, there was a question of whether this class of people who cannot ship, transport, receive, or possess firearms or ammunition under federal law includes those people who are legal medical pot patients in states like Michigan. But, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives answered this question in a memo sent out last September. The memo states, “Therefore, any person who uses or is addicted to marijuana, regardless of whether his or her State has passed legislation authorizing marijuana for medicinal purposes, is an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance, and is prohibited by Federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition.”
The firearms lawyers at Kronzek & Cronkright, PLLC are aware that many gun shop owners and operators are now asking gun purchasers whether they are medical cannabis patients. The shop owners do not want to get into trouble for selling a firearm or ammunition to a person they know or have reasonable cause to believe is an unlawful user of or addicted to an illegal controlled substance. Selling guns or ammo to a medical marijuana user is a violation of federal law.
For many medical marijuana patients, it is tough to hear that they can no longer possess, transport, ship, or receive guns while they are legal patients. Some may even choose to give up their patient status and stop using weed altogether in favor of keeping their firearms rights. If you are facing this choice, it would be a good idea to contact a criminal defense attorney.