Firearms Licenses & Marijuana Convictions

Massachusetts Firearms Law statutorily prohibits a Police Chief or licensing official from granting a License to Carry Firearms or Firearms Identification Card to any applicant who has been convicted of a violation of drug laws. This prohibition also applies to juvenile delinquency and youthful offender adjudications. However, in 2008, the voters of Massachusetts overwhelmingly voted to decriminalize the possession of marijuana in quantities less than one ounce. This is treated as a civil offense and it cannot be used to disqualify an individual. Therefore, possession of less than one ounce of marijuana is no longer a disqualifier in Massachusetts for firearms licensing purposes.

On April 18, 2014, Judge Steams of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts ruled that two LTC Applicants, who were convicted of possession of marijuana many years before in the states of Maine and Virginia, were not disqualified from being issued LTCs. Judge Steams ruled that the drug disqualification which appears in G.L. c. 140, § 131 could not be relied upon to deny these individuals firearms licenses. He further ruled that the denials based on marijuana convictions deprived the applicants their rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

In another case, which was decided on September 9, 2015, Judge Sorokin of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts also ruled that a plaintiff, who convicted of possession of less than one ounce of marijuana in the state of Florida in 1975, was not disqualified from being granted a Massachusetts Firearms Permit.  Judge Sorokin declared that the application of G.L. c. 140, § 131 to the plaintiff to deny him a license to carry on the basis of the Florida conviction would result in a deprivation of rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

Therefore, were an applicant for a Firearms Identification Card (FID) or License to Carry (LTC) has an out of state marijuana possession conviction and there is no evidence to show that the amount of marijuana possessed exceeded one (1) ounce, the drug disqualification provisions of G.L. c. 140, § 131 and 140, § 129B will not prohibit you from being issued a firearms license. This only applies to simple possession cases and it does not apply to trafficking, distribution, possession with intent to distribute, or any other drug crime.