An overarching concept behind gun control is blocking the Constitutional right to bear arms for people who have been deemed a danger to the public, such as violent convicts. However, there is a controversial gray area where Pennsylvania’s gun laws intersect with its medical marijuana program. Currently, anyone with a medical marijuana or cannabis prescription must surrender their right to own a firearm. The perceived and largely unfounded fear is that marijuana use makes someone too dangerous to have a gun.
Attorney Andrew Sacks – one of the nation’s leading legal advocates for comprehensive medical marijuana programs and protective laws surrounding them and the only lawyer-member of the American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp (ATACH) – was recently interviewed by The Inquirer of Philadelphia for insight into this controversial subject. The managing partner of Sacks Weston LLC shone a light on the hypocrisy of the current legislation affecting gun ownership for medical marijuana users. He pointed out that people known to be addicted to hard narcotics, as well as people who have been involuntarily admitted to a hospital for a mental illness, can purchase firearms without a hitch, but someone using a THC-based medicine cannot.
Federal Cloud Over State-Level Regulations
The regulations that make it illegal to possess a firearm and a medical marijuana prescription stem from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) control over federal drug laws. Despite the continued efforts and advanced understanding of THC and cannabidiol, the DEA still lists any form of marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug. In conjunction with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) – another federal agency – strict control over legal deadly weapon possession, marijuana use and gun ownership cannot coexist until the federal laws change.
There has been a clear line drawn in the sand for gun owners and gun shops in Pennsylvania. Anyone who wants to buy a firearm needs to first be checked against a thorough registry maintained by police departments. Seeing a single mention of drug use or possession on the check prohibits the gun shop from making the sale. In many ways, this represents stricter restrictions than many other “suspect parties” looking to buy a gun. Patients may also be subjected to a similar check when prescribed medical marijuana, but this time the agencies will be looking for gun ownership.
Uncertain Future for Medical Marijuana Gun Owners
With strong-minded advocates like Attorney Andrew Sacks working with ATACH, the Philadelphia Bar Association Business Law Section: Medical Marijuana and Hemp Committee, and other organizations, there could be a hopeful change in regulations on the horizon. Yet there is plenty of tough opposition from multiple directions. Most recently, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has removed Obama Administration policies that blocked federal agencies from prosecuting people for marijuana crimes in states that legalized the industry for medical and recreational use.
For more information about these ongoing stories, you can click here to view the Inquirer article featuring Attorney Sacks. You can also click this link to view a recent NBC news article discussing Sessions’ political opposition to medical marijuana. Lastly, if you have additional questions and concerns, or if you need the representation of a Philadelphia complex litigation attorney for a case of your own, you can contact Sacks Weston LLC and request a free consultation with our team.