The answer to this question is very complicated. In short, according to federal law, an individual cannot have a medical marijuana card and concealed carry license (CCL) at the same time. However, disagreements between state and federal law make it possible for individuals in Pennsylvania to hold both.
This is a situation that presents certain complications, as a large percentage of Americans own firearms. In fact, a 2017 Gallup Poll found that around 393 million American citizens have registered firearms. The same poll showed that there are around 120 firearms per every 100 people in the United States.
Pennsylvania offers something of a legal grey area when it comes to holding a medical marijuana card and a concealed carry license. Read on to learn more.
Federal Law Supersedes State Law
The first thing any prospective gun owner and medical cannabis user needs to understand is that there’s an ongoing conflict between state and federal legality. Many states have made it legal to use medicinal marijuana, including Pennsylvania. However, the Federal Government still sees marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, meaning individuals cannot own a gun and use cannabis at the same time. This applies to people in all states, even those where medicinal marijuana is legal.
The Gun Control Act of 1968
Back in 1968, America enacted the Gun Control Act, which banned the use of firearms from anyone using controlled substances, including marijuana. Signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on October 22, 1968, the Act prohibited a wide range of individuals from purchasing guns. These individuals included fugitives from justice, illegal aliens, those dishonorably discharged from the military and drug users.
In 2011, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) released a letter reminding everyone that the Gun Control Act of 1968 was still in effect, despite the fact that several states had recently decriminalized cannabis. This letter simply reiterated the fact that people who use marijuana can’t own a gun, even if they possess a medical marijuana card.
Pennsylvania’s Legal Grey Area
When applying for a CCL, federal background check forms require that Pennsylvania medical marijuana cardholders mark that they are an “unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance” when completing the carry permit form. However, this automatically means you’ll be denied a permit.
To protect patient privacy, the Pennsylvania Department of Health does not post patient names to JNET: the background check portal used by law enforcement agencies. In fact, Pennsylvania medical marijuana cards aren’t scanned into any federal databases. That means patients on the medical marijuana card registry won’t appear on a background check for a firearm.
So, while federal law prohibits firearm ownership and concealed carry licensing by anyone using medical marijuana, your status as a cardholder can’t be verified during a background check. It paves the way for individuals to hold both.
There are other loopholes as well. For example, while an individual with a medical marijuana card can’t own a gun, their spouse can.
Be Aware of CCL and Possession Conflicts
So, can you hold a medical marijuana card and CCL at the same time? Yes—but keep in mind that it’s a very grey area. According to a department of health spokesperson:
“In the case that law enforcement needs to verify a patient’s participation in the program, they will rely on the patient’s medical marijuana ID card.“
“[while] federal law prohibits anyone [from] purchasing a firearm while using medical marijuana, a patient’s status in the program will not be verified during the background check process through JNET.”
Since there are so many conflicts, it’s important to stay aware of the laws in Pennsylvania when it comes to medicinal marijuana possession. It’s also important to care for yourself and your wellbeing. If you’re ready to start the application process for your medical marijuana card, contact Cannabis Care Consultants today. We’ll guide you through the process so there’s nothing left up to question.
Tags: Concealed Carry License (CCL), Does a Medical Marijuana Card Prohibit Concealed Weapons Permits?, Medical Card in Pennsylvania