Gun Ownership for MMJ Patients in Arizona?

Can You Own a Gun with a Medical Card in Arizona?

Yes, Arizona laws allow medical cannabis patients to own or possess guns. While marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, registered medical cannabis patients in Arizona are considered lawful users, and no state law prevents them from obtaining firearm licenses and purchasing guns. Medical marijuana users in the state are not listed as prohibited possessors of firearms under ARS 13-3101. Since Arizona law does not prohibit medical cannabis patients from possessing firearms, patients may own handguns and rifles as concealed carry or open carry.

Can Arizona Medical Cannabis Patients Legally Carry Firearms Without Permits?

Registered cannabis patients in Arizona may carry guns without necessarily obtaining firearm permits. The state's Constitutional Carry or Permitless Carry law allows anyone aged 21 years or older who can legally possess or own a firearm to carry it concealed without any type of gun license or permit. Without a gun permit, open carry is also allowed for anyone who is at least 18 years old and is legally eligible to possess a firearm.

While no special permit is needed for concealed carry, Arizona law makes provisions for individuals, including medical cannabis patients, who may wish to travel to other states without surrendering their right to carry. The state maintains a "shall-issue law," allowing someone who meets the statutory requirements set by the law to obtain a Concealed Weapons Permit (CWP) from the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS).

Does Arizona Require Background Checks for MMJ Patients Seeking Gun Licenses?

In Arizona, background checks are not required for individuals, including registered medical cannabis patients, seeking to purchase guns in private sales. However, anyone intending to get a Concealed Weapons Permit (CWP) in the state must submit two sets of fingerprints. With these fingerprints, the DPS will check the applicant's criminal history from the Central State Repository for criminal records in Arizona within 60 days of receiving the request.

Can You Get an Arizona Medical Marijuana Card After Getting a Gun License?

Yes. Having a gun license is not a barrier to getting a medical marijuana registry identification card in Arizona. A physician or the state's Department of Health Services (ADHS) is not allowed to ask a qualifying medical marijuana patient about their gun ownership status while applying for a medical cannabis card. Hence, obtaining an Arizona medical marijuana registry identification card does not invalidate a person's firearm license. Spouses of medical cannabis users in the state are equally permitted to buy firearms.

Legal History of Gun Ownership for MMJ Patients in Arizona

As of 2023, Arizona has no specific legislation or litigation concerning registered medical cannabis patients' gun ownership rights. Marijuana patients are permitted to own or possess guns as long as they are law-abiding and eligible to carry firearms. In the eyes of the state, no laws are violated when a cannabis patient has a firearm. There are no known instances of state or federal law enforcement officers arresting patients for possessing guns, even though doing so is at variance with federal laws, as does marijuana use. While it is rare in Arizona, the odds of legal issues for bearing a firearm as a medical cannabis patient do exist due to the inconsistencies between federal and state legislation.

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

The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) lists marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance and is considered illegal under federal laws. Consequently, cannabis users in states with legal marijuana do not have firearm ownership rights in the eyes of federal laws and are prohibited from possessing guns. Specifically, the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA), which is codified in U.S.C Section 922(g), bans illegal controlled substances consumers from owning guns. To corroborate the GCA, in 2011, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Explosives (ATF) publicized a set of instructions restraining federally licensed firearm dealers from selling guns to persons using cannabis for medicinal purposes. Medical cannabis patients are also considered unlawful users of controlled substances under the GCA.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling in the Wilson v. Lynch case affirmed the position of federal laws concerning the firearms rights of medical cannabis users. S. Rowan Wilson, who was a medical cannabis patient, filed a suit in a federal district court for being denied the right to purchase and possess a gun as specified in the Second Amendment. The firearm dealer who knew Wilson's status as a medical marijuana cardholder had referenced the 2011 ATF instructions as the reason for turning down the purchase attempt. At the instance of the ATF's motion, the federal district court dismissed Rowan's suit. Although Wilson appealed the lower court's ruling, the Court of Appeals upheld the federal district court's judgment in the end.

The need for honesty when completing the ATF Form 4473 in an attempt to purchase a gun from a licensed firearm dealer cannot be overemphasized. It is a federal offense punishable with up to 10 years imprisonment in federal prison to lie about cannabis use in question 21(f) on Form 4473 when purchasing a firearm.

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