One of the most frequently asked questions about using medical cannabis involves that of patient gun rights. Although I am not an attorney, my impressions from reading about this issue follow.

The photograph below is of the Firearms Transaction Record form 4473. Guns purchased from a licensed dealer can only be sold after this form is submitted and it must be answered truthfully and fully or you will face the penalty of perjury. Notice question 11e: “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.” 

The question mentions unlawful use or addiction to controlled substances and specifically mentions marijuana. Well, you are not unlawfully using cannabis and you are not addicted to cannabis so the answer would be “no”, right? That’s why the bold print warning is there. The feds see any use of cannabis as unlawful and probably unpatriotic and evil to boot. Saying “no” to this question is perjury and I doubt an aggressive federal prosecutor would look the other way on this transgression- unless you are a politician, of course.

The majority of states (including Arkansas) with medical or adult use cannabis legalization go along with the feds on this and prohibit firearm purchases by medical cannabis or adult use patients. Some states even assist the federal government with the enforcement of such laws as Hawaii did last year when it sent letters to medical cannabis patient card holders. These letters informed them of the prohibition against owning firearms and ammunition. The Honolulu Police Department had told legal marijuana users who own guns that they must turn in their weapons within 30 days. I don’t know how many patients complied.

Oklahoma just passed a new law (HB2612) which in addition to establishing the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority to regulate medical cannabis, it also states: “a medical marijuana patient or caregiver licensee shall not be denied the right to own, purchase or possess a firearm, ammunition, or firearm accessories based solely on his or her status as a medical marijuana patient or caregiver licensee.” 

A line has been drawn in the sand by the Sooners. It remains to be seen if the feds will simply “look the other way” with respect to Oklahoma patients “lying” on the form 4473, as there is no other way a FFL dealer can sell them a gun, or whether they will prosecute some of those individuals despite clear state protections. One thing is for sure, the state of Oklahoma will not help the federal government enforce their prohibition and it is unlikely the feds have the resources to pursue gun owner with a medical cannabis certification. 

Arkansas continues to toe the federal government line with respect to firearms and medical cannabis. Here, patients must make a decision of which God given right they would like to exercise. Treat a disease and improve their quality of life or retain the means to protect themselves. For too many of our citizens, it is a “Sophie’s Choice.” 

Interviews with law enforcement and a criminal defense attorney are planned in the coming months as podcasts addressing this and other legal issues with medical cannabis patients. Stay tuned!. 

Brian Nichol MD 
Cannabis Expert