Pennsylvania is struggling with the legalization of medical marijuana and the Federal prohibition of marijuana use. The state police have quoted federal law as prohibiting people who legally use marijuana under state law, from purchasing firearms under federal law. Medical marijuana users may be denied a Pennsylvania license to carry firearms. From the Pennsylvannia State Police website:
If you are holder of a Medical Marijuana Card, it is important that you know:
• It is unlawful for you to attempt to purchase a firearm under Federal law and you will be denied during your Pennsylvania State Police background check, due to prohibitions under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(3).
• It is unlawful under federal law for you to keep possession of any firearms which you owned or had in your possession prior to obtaining a medical marijuana card, and we recommend that you consult an attorney if you have any questions about your firearms. Again, this is due to prohibitions under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(3).
• It is also unlawful for you to apply for, possess or renew a Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearm (LTC), because you are “[a]n individual who is prohibited from possessing or acquiring a firearm under the statutes of the United States.” (see above). The sheriff should not process your application if you truthfully indicate to the sheriff that you are the holder of a Medical Marijuana Card. Additionally, you will be denied during the Pennsylvania State Police background check, which occurs as part of the LTC application or renewal process.
An earlier statement, suggested medical marijuana users should give up their firearms. CBS reported this statement was on the Pennsylvania State Police website. From cbslocal.com:
“It is unlawful for you to keep possession of any firearms which you owned or had in your possession prior to obtaining a medical marijuana card, and you should consult an attorney about the best way to dispose of your firearms.”
The above statement is no longer found on the State Police web site. Governor Tom Wolf has reassured Pennsylvania gun owners that Pennsylvania police will not be seeking medical marijuana users to confiscate their guns. From wesa.fm:
According to the governor, the Pennsylvania State Police do not advise that if people receive medical marijuana they get rid of their guns. However, if they have questions about gun ownership and applying for medical marijuana, they should consult with their attorneys.
The one thing Wolf was clear on is that the state will not be seeking out those who already own guns.
“We’re not going to take their guns away,” Wolf said.
A worrisome possibility is that the database of medical marijuana users could be introduced into the federal National Instant Check System. The medical marijuana users could be tagged as prohibited possessors. If a background check was run on an individual who was on the list, they would show as a prohibited possessor.
It seems unlikely that while Governor Wolf is in office, the Pennsylvania government would turn over the database of medical marijuna users. But digital databases are easily mover around. A future Pennsylvania government may not be so sensitive to privacy issues.
The issue of medical marijuana and prohibited possessors is not going away. The rational thing would be to reform the federal law, and reduce the categories of prohibited possessors to those who have committed violent crimes.
©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.