DISCLAIMER: The following blog post is an opinion piece. It is not legal advice, and it shouldn’t be read that way. Before you make any decisions regarding medical marijuana and gun ownership, you should contact a licensed attorney.
Everyone in America is talking about guns right now.
Some people want stricter gun laws passed. Some people feel our current gun laws are strict enough as it is.
Here in Nevada, the issue becomes even more complicated when you consider the laws surrounding medical marijuana and guns. Patients are constantly asking the following questions:
“If I have a concealed carry permit, can I still use medical marijuana?”
“What about openly carrying a firearm? Can I still do that and use my medicine?”
“What does the law say exactly?”
These sound like simple, straight-forward questions. Unfortunately, the answers are anything but that.
I’ll try to clear up as much of the confusion as I can.
What the Feds Say About Medical Marijuana and Guns
As most of you already know, marijuana is illegal on the federal level. Period.
Now…the Justice Department has stated that they’re not going to go after states that permit medical and recreational marijuana use, provided that those states issue strict regulatory guidelines and don’t threaten bigger federal law enforcement priorities such as preventing the sale of drugs to minors and taking down drug cartels.
That doesn’t mean that the feds CAN’T arrest medical marijuana patients. It just means that they have bigger fish to fry at the moment. As long as you abide by your state’s medical marijuana laws, you should be okay – “should” being the operative word.
Things change drastically when you add medical marijuana and guns into the mix.
It’s against federal law to use or be addicted to an illegal substance and also be in possession of a firearm. Medical marijuana would fall under the category of “illegal substance”, even though it’s legal in Nevada.
If a federal law enforcement officer searched your house and found an ounce of medical marijuana, you could potentially get in trouble.
If that same officer found an ounce of marijuana AND an AR-15, you could be in a lot more trouble.
What the State of Nevada Says About Medical Marijuana and Guns
Things seem to ease up when we focus in on Nevada’s laws – “seem” being the operative word.
According to Derek J. Connor, a lawyer who handles medical marijuana cases, there is no law that states that medical marijuana patients can’t own firearms or apply for a concealed carry permit.
Nevada law states that you can’t be under the influence of an intoxicating substance and be in possession of a firearm.
At first glance, this is a little disconcerting because it seems to suggest that you can’t use medical marijuana in your house even if you have your guns locked away in another room.
Before you freak out, like I did initially, the law also says this: “This prohibition does not apply to the actual physical possession of a firearm by a person who was within the person’s personal residence and had the firearm in his or her possession solely for self-defense.”
Connor says that if you use medical marijuana and you happen to have guns in your house for the purposes of self-defense, that’s okay. At least, as far as the state of Nevada concerned.
But it is against the law to physically carry or fire any of your guns while under the influence of marijuana. The only shotgun you’re allowed to deal with is this kind.
The Bottom Line
To sum it up, the federal government says that:
- Medical marijuana possession is illegal
- Possessing both medical marijuana and guns is really illegal and you could face serious jail time if prosecuted and convicted.
The state of Nevada says:
- Medical marijuana is legal, provided you have a state-issued medical marijuana card.
- It’s legal to possess both medical marijuana and guns.
- But being under the influence of medical marijuana while carrying or firing a gun is illegal
Connor says it’s unlikely that the federal government would go after run-of-the-mill medical marijuana patients who abide by state laws.
But he also told me that, on occasion, law enforcement officers have confiscated firearms from patients just for having a medical marijuana card – not the actual medicine, mind you, but just the ID.
Connor went on to say that medical marijuana patients shouldn’t advertise the fact that they’re medical marijuana patients.
You wouldn’t broadcast your medical records to the world. Your medical marijuana patient status is just that – a part of your private medical record. Keep it under lock and key.
And when you’re using your medicine, keep your guns under lock and key as well.
Like the disclaimer said at the beginning of this post, this is just my opinion. If you really want to know what your rights are and how you can legally protect yourself, you should consult with a lawyer.