Gun Ownership for MMJ Patients in New York?

Can You Own a Gun with a Medical Card in New York?

If you own a medical marijuana card or are registered as a medical marijuana patient in New York State, you cannot purchase or own a gun. This is because licensed gun sellers, in compliance with federal law, refuse to sell firearms to confirmed medical marijuana users.

Can New York Medical Cannabis Patients Legally Carry Firearms Without Permits?

Medical cannabis patients in New York cannot carry firearms. Although for concealed carry, an individual of legal age requires a license to own a handgun or a permit for a rifle or shotgun, verified medical marijuana users cannot legally possess firearms in New York State.

Does New York Require Background Checks for MMJ Patients Seeking Gun Licenses?

Background checks are required for anyone looking to buy guns in New York. However, since medical marijuana patients cannot legally purchase firearms, their applications for gun licenses will likely fall through.

Can You Get a New York Medical Marijuana Card After Getting a Gun License?

With no specific state law prohibiting gun licensees from obtaining a New York medical marijuana card, you may be able to get a medical marijuana card after obtaining a New York State gun license. However, it is illegal under federal law to own a firearm while registered as a medical marijuana user. Hence, you may be prosecuted for holding marijuana and gun licenses at the same time.

Legal History of Gun Ownership for MMJ Patients in New York

Although the Supreme Court's decision in the New York Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen case fundamentally changed gun law in the state and across the nation, it did not have a significant impact on gun rights for medical marijuana patients. The Supreme Court's decision struck down New York's 100-year-old law requiring applicants to show "proper cause" for concealed carry gun permits. There has been no significant litigation or legislation to allow medical marijuana patients in the state to carry firearms legally.

What Federal Law Says About the Firearm Rights of Medical Marijuana Users

Despite the Second Amendment allowing United States citizens to possess and keep firearms, the Gun Control Act of 1968 removes such rights from citizens who are marijuana users. The Act describes anyone who uses marijuana, even for medical purposes, as an unlawful marijuana user who may not be allowed to possess a gun. Note that cannabis remains an illegal narcotic under the federal Controlled Substances Act.

Moreover, in 2011, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) issued a letter to all licensed firearms dealers explicitly stating that individuals holding medical marijuana cards are ineligible to purchase firearms. The ATF introduced changes to Form 4473, a mandatory document for firearms purchasers, adding a specific question about marijuana use. Applicants are now required to disclose whether they are "an unlawful user of, or addicted to, cannabis" Responding affirmatively to this question results in denying the firearm license, while a negative response may lead to perjury charges.

Despite legal challenges to the ban on firearms possession by MMJ patients, courts have consistently upheld the federal position. A notable case is Wilson v. Lynch, where the Ninth U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the federal position on the matter does not violate the Second Amendment rights of medical marijuana cardholders. Similar legal battles are ongoing, such as the case of Fried v. Garland in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, filed in April 2022. This case is currently awaiting resolution in the 11th U.S. Court of Appeals.

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