I recently had a client who was involved in a bad car accident and had treated extensively with a chiropractor, visited an orthopedic doctor several times and was prescribed certain powerful medications to help him deal with pain relief.
Unfortunately, none of those treatments or remedies provided the long-term pain relief he sought and he also became concerned that he would become dependent on the prescription medication.
He told me he was interested in getting a medical marijuana card but heard that, if he did so, he would forfeit his right to his concealed weapons license.
Marijuana Laws in Florida
Over the last decade or so many states have legalized the use of marijuana both medically and recreationally. In Florida you may legally possess marijuana up to a certain amount provided you have a valid medical marijuana card.
The use of medical Marijuana was approved by over 70% of voters back in 2016 but after that, the state legislature placed a ban on smoking medical marijuana which was enacted in 2017. In March of 2019, current Florida governor Ron DeSantis signed bill SB182 to allow for the sale and purchase of marijuana for medical use. This bill only protects a qualified class of Floridians that possess the medical marijuana card. However, marijuana is still illegal federally. We’ll get to that issue in a second.
What About Gun Laws?
As far as guns laws are concerned, the Second Amendment affords United States citizens the right to bear arms under the United States Constitution’s Bill of Rights. Though the United States Constitution permits this right, the rules governing whether a person can carry a concealed weapon are regulated by each state and they all have separate and distinct rules.
A Florida concealed weapons license or CWL is only issued to qualified applicants and the requirements that must be met are clearly defined. One important requirement is that in order to obtain a CWL in Florida, an individual must adhere to the federal law requirements as well. Statute 18 USC 922(g) says that certain individuals are not allowed to own or possess a gun including “Persons who are unlawful users or are addicted to narcotics or any other controlled substance.” This includes marijuana. So even if your state allows you to have medical marijuana, it is still illegal under federal law.
The reason that state rules and federal rules can be different is because of the powers vested in each entity. The state of Florida has the power to regulate health, welfare, safety, and morals. Knowing that, each state can choose to make marijuana legal to benefit the health of those who need it and find it helpful.
So to Answer My Client’s Question I Let Him Know That:
He could get a medical marijuana card while still maintaining his CWL.
And if he were to be stopped by state agents or officers, it is likely that he will not get in trouble for having both medical marijuana and a gun in his possession because both are lawful in Florida. However, if he were to be stopped by federal agents like the ATF or FBI, he will likely have his CWL revoked as he would be in possession of illegal narcotics while also possessing a firearm.
It’s a tricky rule and one that you can bet the legislature will try and sort out as the issues become more common.