What Does Getting an Alabama Marijuana Card Mean for My Second Amendment Rights?
Important Note: While we fact-checked the accuracy of this article, its content should not be considered legal advice or an adequate substitution for a consultation with an attorney. If you think your rights as a marijuana patient and a gun owner are being violated, we encourage you to seek professional legal counsel. Click here for a list of Alabama attorneys specializing in marijuana law.
With medical marijuana on its way to Alabama, you probably have a lot of questions. Questions besides how to get an Alabama Marijuana Card, we mean.
One of the most common questions we hear is about what getting a marijuana card would mean for someone’s Second Amendment rights. Unfortunately for now, the answer isn’t great, but there is reason to believe change is on the horizon.
The Current News for Alabama Gun Owners Who Want a Medical Marijuana Card Is Somewhat Discouraging
Currently, Federal gun regulations prohibit medical marijuana users from owning firearms.
The Federal government considers marijuana a schedule 1 controlled substance, meaning it has no medicinal value and is highly addictive. In effect, the Federal government doesn’t distinguish between medical marijuana and heroin or opium.
Beyond painting medical marijuana in an unfair light, schedule 1 status means anyone who uses medical marijuana is legally forbidden to own a gun thanks to the Controlled Substances Act.
It doesn’t matter if you’re complying with your state’s laws; it doesn’t matter if you have no criminal record; under the Controlled Substances Act, using marijuana means no legal gun ownership for you. And don’t forget: While individual states have legalized marijuana, the federal government still considers it an illegal drug.
So I Have to Choose Between My Guns and My Right to Natural Medicine?
Legally, yes. And breaking that law could land you up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
But although we don’t recommend not complying with the law, there are ways you could both own a gun and a marijuana card with low risk of being caught.
Current Gun Owners Could Just Hope They Don’t Get Caught
The text of SB 46, the law that legalized medical marijuana in Alabama, is very clear about who has the ability to access the patient registry listing all of the Alabamans who are permitted to use medical marijuana.
This is a Reasonable Approach Since the Feds Are Not Focused on Enforcement for States That Have Their Own Marijuana Laws
Although Federal law prohibits a marijuana user from owning a gun, there is no process by which the Federal government can access the database unless they have a valid search warrant.
In other words, the Federal government would have to already have evidence that a specific Alabaman 1) owned a gun and 2) was a medical marijuana patient before they could access the database to prove that Alabaman was in violation of Federal gun laws.
Furthermore, the Justice Department has not targeted individuals or entities who are in compliance with their state’s marijuana laws since 2013. Federal prosecutors are reluctant to squander their limited resources on cases that aren’t likely to lead to convictions, and 1) cases where there are conflicts between Federal and state laws can get complicated, lessening the chances of conviction and 2) Federal prosecutors cannot count on shared resources at the state level when they’re pursuing cases in opposition to those states’ laws.
What About First-Time Gun Buyers? Or If I Want to Buy a New Gun After I Have an Alabama Marijuana Card?
To legally purchase a gun from a Federally licensed dealer, a gun buyer must submit a Firearms Transaction Records form to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
As part of that form, gun buyers must answer the following question: Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?
Now before you say “Ah ha! I’m not an unlawful user! I have my Alabama Marijuana Card!” remember that as far as the Federal government is concerned, there is no such thing as a lawful marijuana user.
But don’t worry; the feds won’t let you forget. Right there underneath the question is a prominently-placed reminder. “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.”
So Can’t I Just Lie About My Marijuana Use on the Federal Firearms Transaction Records Form?
Yes, yes you can. And just like with current gun owners who roll the dice that the confidential nature of the patient registry will protect them from being found out, you can hope you get away with it.
But make sure you check that small print: Lying on your Firearms Transaction form is considered perjury, and if you get caught you’ll be facing a hefty fine and up to five years in prison.
What About Private Gun Sales?
True, if you’re not buying a gun from a Federally-licensed dealer, but are instead purchasing it at a gun show or from a private citizen, you don’t need to submit the Firearms Transaction Records form, and therefore can buy that gun without exposing yourself to a potential perjury charge.
On the other hand, it would still be illegal for you as a medical marijuana user to own that gun, and you’re still taking a risk. In fact, you’re back to risking five years in prison, just as you would be if you bought the gun from a Federally-licensed dealer and lied on the form.
But, again, the Feds are not currently prosecuting people who are in compliance with their states’ marijuana laws, nor have they been for almost a decade. It seems likely that no administration is going to prosecute gun owners whose only crime is being legal marijuana users.
So What’s That Change on the Horizon Stuff all About?
Although there is currently no way for a medical marijuana user, even one with an Alabama Marijuana Card, to legally own a gun, marijuana’s legal status seems to be perpetually changing. And if history is any indication, that change will continue to mean increased rights for marijuana users.
Consider what has been happening in Minnesota. There, politicians from both sides of the aisle have been working together to discuss what can be done to reconcile the inconsistencies between medical marijuana and Second Amendment rights.
And those legislators are looking to examples from other states that have taken steps to try to pressure the Federal government into abandoning its wrongheaded stance.
And speaking of the Federal government, there have been ongoing efforts at change on that level too.
Most recently, U.S. Representative Rodney Davis introduced the Gun Rights and Marijuana Act, which would end the Federal prohibition on gun ownership by medical marijuana patients.
While Davis’ bill hasn’t made it out of committee yet, it’s just one more example of how quickly change has come in regards to medical marijuana. A little more than 20 years ago, the Federal government was actively trying to derail individual states’ medical marijuana laws.
Now that Federal attorneys have been directed not to direct resources towards convicting people and entities who are complying with their respective states’ marijuana laws, and a conservative Congressman is introducing bills to support marijuana users’ rights, change seems well on the way.
But Until Change Comes, We’ll be Here for You
But until the status quo changes, Alabamans who want to legally exercise their gun rights and have access to medical marijuana will have to choose.
And while only you can make that choice for yourself, we will be here for you whatever you choose.
We’re building an informational library to keep you informed about developments in Alabama’s medical marijuana market. Subscribe to our newsletter below, we’ll keep you updated whenever there is news about your marijuana-related rights.
And if you decide you can no longer bear your qualifying condition without the relief of medical marijuana before change comes? Well we’re still here for you.
Whenever you decide the time is right to explore medical marijuana, you can reserve an evaluation with one of our knowledgeable, compassionate doctors. If you sign up today, you’ll get $25 off your appointment!
We’ll book a telemedicine appointment for you with your doctor so that you can discuss your condition over your computer or smartphone and decide together what the best treatment options are for you.
Doctors Who Care. Relief You Can Trust.
At Alabama 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.
If you have any questions, call us at (833) 781-5633, or simply reserve a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!
Check out Alabama Marijuana Card’s Blog to keep up to date on the latest medical marijuana news, tips, and information.