TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Jamie Meade has struggled with rheumatoid arthritis and spinal stenosis for 15 years.
Recent surgeries on his back and neck have helped–and he says Enbrel is a miracle drug–but it’s not enough.
“I still have, at the end of the day, agonizing pain,” said Meade. “So I started looking into medical marijuana, not knowing much about it, because it had been recommended to me.”
But Meade didn’t get very far, because a local dispensary told him he couldn’t renew his concealed weapons permit if he had a medical marijuana card.
“I thought that was pretty interesting, plus it’s somewhat unfair,” said Meade. “If it’s a prescribed medication, why would the FDLE, or any governing agency, step in?”
The dispensary was wrong, but only partially.
There’s nothing in Florida law that prevents a medical marijuana patient from obtaining or renewing a concealed weapons license.
“The issue is pretty clear,” wrote Max Flugrath of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the state department that handles concealed weapons licenses. “Florida Statute 790.06 provides a limited list of factors (such as felony arrests, whether the instructor deems the applicant capable, etc.) upon which our Department must approve or deny a concealed weapons license. Therefore, the Department is prohibited from asking questions outside that scope, which would include medical marijuana card possession.”
However, the issue is federal law.
It’s illegal to buy or own a firearm if you are an “unlawful drug user,” and since cannabis is still illegal on the federal level, medical marijuana patients in Florida (and every other state) fall into that category.
That means they are not legally allowed to own firearms, though ATF agents admit it’s unlikely they’ll come storming into your house if you already have them.
The problem comes when a medical marijuana patient tries to buy a gun from a store or any other federally-licensed firearms dealer.
The gun buyer must fill out Form 4473, which forces them to answer whether they are an “unlawful user” of marijuana or other drugs.
In fact, the ATF added a warning in 2016 specifically stating “the use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medicinal or recreational purposes in the state where you reside.”
If the buyer answers ‘no’ but currently uses marijuana, that person is breaking the law by lying on a federal form.
If the buyer answers ‘yes’ to being a current user, by law the dealer cannot sell that person a gun.
So medical marijuana patients who own guns are breaking at least two federal laws.
Meade says that’s not a viable answer for him, so he’ll stick with Enbrel and deal with the pain.
“I don’t want to relinquish my concealed weapons permit for a medical marijuana prescription,” Meade said.