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Do Medical Marijuana Patients Give Up Their Right to Bear Arms?

August 31, 2016
shooting from the pneumatic weapon to the target
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal ban on the sale of guns to medical marijuana card holders does not violate the Second Amendment, a federal appeals court said Wednesday.

The ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals applies to the nine Western states that fall under the court’s jurisdiction, including California, Washington and Oregon.

It came in a lawsuit filed by S. Rowan Wilson, a Nevada woman who said she tried to buy a firearm for self-defense in 2011 after obtaining a medical cannabis card. The gun store refused, citing the federal rule banning the sale of firearms to illegal drug users.

Cannabis remains illegal under federal law.

Wilson said she was not a marijuana user, but obtained the card in part as an expression of support for cannabis legalization.

She challenged guidance issued by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in 2011 that said gun sellers should assume people with medical marijuana cards use the drug and not sell them firearms.

The 9th Circuit in its 3-0 decision said it was reasonable for federal regulators to assume a medical marijuana card holder was more likely to use the drug.

The court also said Congress had reasonably concluded that cannabis and other drug use “raises the risk of irrational or unpredictable behavior with which gun use should not be associated.”

Wilson’s attorney, Chaz Rainey, said there needs to be more consistency in the application of the Second Amendment. He planned to appeal the decision and his options include submitting the appeal to the same panel of judges that issued the ruling, a larger panel of the circuit court or the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We live in a world where having a medical marijuana card is enough to say you don’t get a gun, but if you’re on the no fly list your constitutional right is still protected,” he said.

The 9th Circuit also rejected other constitutional challenges to the ban that were raised by Wilson, including her argument that her gun rights were being stripped without due process.

Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said the idea that cannabis users were more prone to violence is a fallacy.

“Responsible adults who use cannabis in a manner that is compliant with the laws of their states ought to receive the same legal rights and protections as other citizens,” he said.

Alex Kreit, a marijuana law expert at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, said the ruling was significant — but may not be the last time the 9th Circuit addresses medical marijuana and gun rights.

“It seems like the court did not foreclose the possibility of a challenge by actual medical marijuana users that they shouldn’t be lumped with other drug users in terms of concerns about violence,” he said.

  • Dana DuVall

    Is this going to be an on-going event? If these states have (or will) voted to legalize marijuana within the confines of their state lines won’t that force the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court?


    A person should be able to defend they’re house with a gun,if need would ever arise.The type of medication that you are prescribed should have no count against their rights towards the 2nd amendment.I do feel that any infringement of any amendment is in political violation,and unthinkable towards the freedom this country was forged on.

  • Jeanette Judy Wallin

    Makes no good sense what so ever, you can get drunk, which in many cases leads to bad decisions and a very distorted view of what is going on around you and still have a gun. But be calm and in control like when using weed and you cannot have a gun. This is wrong on all levels

  • Pam Kinnison

    Because a happy stoner is so much more dangerous than a mean drunk. /S

    • Arnold

      I don’t understand the point of meaningless comments like this. Something major happened and your flippancy is a worthless comment. I hate commenters like you, who have NOTHING TO SAY.

      • Pam Kinnison

        Hey Arnold,

        First off, you do know “/S” means that I was being sarcastic?

        My comment was meant to illustrate how wrong the loss of Second Amendment rights are for legal cannabis users. Those specific rights are one of the things that makes our country the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave above all others.

        I personally believe in as little government intervention in our daily lives as possible – cannabis and firearms should both be ours to use and own as we personally see fit.

        Sorry if I ruffled your feathers.

        • MissV

          Don’t be sorry for speaking your mind, be proud of it. Everything you said was spot on. Think I need a hit after reading all of these. I happen to like be a living stoner, that has no synthetic drugs in my system and use nothing but pot for any illness or flareup of my MVP. Pot has kept me alive for 30 years and also stopped me from a two pack a day cigarette habit. Didn’t even have to use those over blown and over priced patches or gum.

      • RadRadley

        @Arnold you must hate yourself becuz you made a more worthless comment to this article than Pam did! You some kind of Fleckenarsewhole or what?

        • hahahahahhaha Ur f word made me laugh …. had ta do it lol

  • Arnold

    This will have to be appealed. It’s patently unconstitutional. It will be overturned.

    • Woody20164

      Well, since it was the 9th Circuit which decided the case, there’s an 80% chance it will be overturned. Their rulings are overturned all the time. They love making social policy from the bench.

  • RadRadley

    So according to this ruling no guns can be sold to anyone where recreational pot is available, i.e. Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska, ( & probably 20 more states by the end of next year)?

    • Woody20164

      Don’t ask, don’t tell. You don’t need to register to smoke weed in those states. But if you do, you identify yourself as a user of a Federally illegal drug. It is what it is. They’re just trying to force national decriminalization.

  • Kaye Buck

    The court also said Congress had reasonably concluded that cannabis and other drug use “raises the risk of irrational or unpredictable behavior with which gun use should not be associated.”
    And, alcohol use does not? What a bunch of BS!

    • Woody20164

      Alcohol is not illegal. Considering the number of deaths it causes, perhaps we should reevaluate prohibition, but for now….

  • Kyle

    How is this an issue with people. You are high, that is not the time to carry a gun. Why is this even an article?

    • RadRadley

      @Kyle this ruling does a little more than prevent stoned peope from carrying a gun! How is it that a person with glaucoma, taking every available avenue to prevent blindness, gives up his 2nd amendment rights? The logic here could be extended to most of the people in this country! How many drinkers have guns? That drinkers have access to a firearm is much worse than mmj patients having the same! Not all forms of medical marijuana are psycotropic!

    • Amanda

      This is an issue because adults should be allowed to be adults and make their own choices. Not to be regulated and ruled like children. I use mmj but not to get high. In fact I don’t even get any head high off of it. I use it medically and not often. I know people who use prescription narcotics 2-3 times a day. These people can go buy a gun and I can’t. These people are allowed to protect their family and I’m not. Can you tell me why our lives are less valuable?

    • Stanton Ludwick

      What, you think people who use pot are all high all the time? Wrong. How about you ?, are you High all the time on prescription drugs and alcohol? We have criminals barging into our houses in broad daylight weather you are in the house or not! torturing and killing people because they were not prepared. Choose your words carefully. responsible adults should have choice.

      • Kyle

        Nice fantasy, do you play it in your head everytime you clean your guns. You and anyone else stupid enough to carry a gun while also smoking a joint did be awarded a medal of valor. Those invisible ninjas you fought as a kid are coming back to get you. Make sure you have the largest caliber weapon you can and blast those mother fuckers to heck.

        • MadeAccountToTellYouYoureDumb

          lol you’re an idiot m8

          • Kyle

            Good comeback bro. You really have me there. Can’t argue against that. Damn son doingdro that logic bomb. Got it all figured out do ya? Got a good head on those shoulders. This is all sarcasm to prove a point, that you didn’t prove any points.

          • MadeAccountToTellYouYoureDumb

            You better watch out man or I’ll smoke a joint and go GUN CRAAAAZY ON YOU!!!!!

          • Kyle

            I see you have no arguments. There’s no point in discussion anymore.

          • Julian


          • Julian

            I love this guy

  • Amanda

    Absolutely it does mean we give up our rights in Nevada. It was almost going as far as taking our drivers license away. If it’s going to be this strict then the same needs to apply to alcohol and prescription narcotics. People drive and use firearms on these substances and yet they don’t caught or need a specially regulated card. I could go to my Doc and “say” I have migraines and easily obtained a prescriprion for Loritab. No one will bat an eye as long as I drive straight. I could then go to the liquor store and pick up some booze, drink it in the parking lot and go on my merry way. No questions asked. But a little marijuana and I’m a criminal. Prohibition didn’t work 70 years ago and it won’t work now.

  • Woody20164

    Wow, the 9th Circuit ruling according to the law, rather than social engineering. THAT’s the big story here.

  • dmpeters


  • Come and Take ’em

    Just transfer your firearms to a family member and don’t actually get rid of them.

  • elaine barbiero

    Does New York STate allow yolu to have a pistol permit and be on a medical marijuana program