It wasn’t advertised in the push to legalize medical marijuana in Missouri but a review of federal law means Missourians who want to get their medical marijuana card would need to choose between using the drug or keeping their gun.
Keeping both means running the risk of being arrested because it’s illegal under federal gun laws for any marijuana user to possess a firearm.
In this month’s election, state voters overwhelming passed Amendment 2 by nearly 66%, also known as New Approach Missouri, which allows doctors to recommend medical marijuana to patients with serious illnesses.
New Approach Missouri spokesperson Jack Cardetti said the new marijuana law had the foresight to protect second amendment rights at the state level.
“Part of Amendment 2 states that medical marijuana patients that have cancer, epilepsy, PTSD and other debilitating illnesses should have the same rights as other law-abiding citizens,” Cardetti said. “We clearly believe that medical marijuana patients should be able to both possess and purchase a firearm. Unfortunately, just like the other 32 states that have a medical marijuana program, there are some federal laws that do complicate that.”
John Ham with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives said both recreational and medical marijuana is still considered a schedule 1 controlled substance at the federal level.
“Whether you cross state lines or not, it would be a violation of federal law for you to be in possession of the gun if you are a user of marijuana,” Ham said. “We are in a situation where we enforce the federal laws that are given to us. Until there is a change to federal law either with marijuana being on the controlled substances list or a change to federal firearms law, the way that we enforce federal law won’t change.”
Now that more than half of all states in the nation have legalized medical cannabis, Cardetti thinks momentum is building to change federal marijuana laws.
“I think there is a good chance that marijuana will no longer be a schedule 1 narcotic,” Cardetti said. “It will either be rescheduled or de-scheduled in the next couple of years. We think that would be a really good option that is going to help people all across the country.”
But the federal government under President Trump’s administration has so far taken a hard line against legalizing marijuana use. In January, the U.S. Justice Department rescinded an Obama administration policy that had eased enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states that legalized the drug, instead giving federal prosecutors wide latitude to pursue criminal charges.
Republican State Representative Nick Schroer of St. Louis says he plans to propose a resolution in January that urges US Congress to reclassify marijuana or change the part of the federal firearm law to allow gun ownership for medical marijuana users.
Cardetti says its times for Missouri lawmakers in Washington to work on making changes on marijuana laws in the nation’s capital. “States have tried to go to court to challenge that and they’ve so far been unsuccessful,” said Cardetti. “So, the real remedy here is that the federal government and the Missouri congressional delegation need to get together and change federal law when it comes to federal law.”