Firearms Licensing and “Medical Marijuana”

My office has received numerous inquiries regarding whether the holder of a Medical Marijuana Card issued by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health can be issued a License to Carry Firearms. As explained below, the answer is yes. Chapter 369 of the Acts of 2012, An Act for the Humanitarian Medical Use of Marijuana,  states that “any person meeting the requirements under this law shall not be penalized under Massachusetts law in any manner, or denied any right or privilege, for such actions.”

Under federal law, the possession of marijuana is still illegal and there is no exception for “medical marijuana.” Also, when you purchase a firearm, rifle, or shotgun, you will be required to complete a federal form 4473 which asks, “Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?” Under state law, if you have a valid DPH medical marijuana card, you are not considered an “unlawful user” of marijuana. However, under federal law there is no such thing as a “lawful user” of marijuana, which is classified as Schedule 1 controlled substance. 18 USC 44 922 (g)(3) prohibits unlawful marijuana users and addicts from purchasing or possessing firearms, even if the individual has a LTC.

Although Massachusetts law imposes no penalties for the acquisition, cultivation, possession, processing, transfer, transportation, sale, distribution of so-called medical marijuana, because of the above-listed federal prohibition, medical marijuana users should proceed with caution.