There is a lot of confusion when it comes to the legality of carrying, purchasing and possessing a firearm. The article below was written in hopes of providing basic information about medical marijuana and concealed carry.
So can a Michigan medical marijuana patient carry a concealed firearm? The answer is YES, absolutely and legally, but only under the right circumstances. In order to fully understand, it will require an explanation of both Michigan and Federal law.
Michigan Law Does Not Prohibit Marijuana Users From Obtaining a Permit to Carry a Concealed Pistol (CPL)
First, it must be made clear that Michigan law does prohibit a person that is under the influence of marijuana from being in possession of a firearm. Michigan does not prohibit a user of medical marijuana obtained a concealed carry permit.
The requirements for obtaining a permit to carry a concealed pistol include having none of the following:
- a felony conviction
- a mental health illness
- a dishonorable military discharge
- a domestic assault conviction in the past 8 years
- a DUI conviction within the past 3 years
As you can see, having a medical marijuana card is not on that list. Furthermore, it is not a question on the application and the county clerk does not have access to Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs’ (LARA) medical marijuana patient list. Law enforcement cannot access the list either (for this purpose).
“Unlawful User of or Addicted to Marijuana”: What Does This Mean?
Use and possession of marijuana remains unlawful under federal law. The federal government also prohibits a person from possessing a firearm if that person is an “unlawful user or addicted to a controlled substance.” Unfortunately, marijuana use for medicinal or recreational purposes is not a defense. It does not matter if the state has provided the legalization or decriminalization of marijuana.
The term “unlawful user of a controlled substance” contemplates the regular and repeated use of a controlled substance in a manner other than as prescribed by a licensed physician. The one time or infrequent use of a controlled substance is not sufficient to establish the defendant as an “unlawful user.”
Rather, the defendant must have been engaged in use that was sufficiently consistent and prolonged, as to constitute a pattern of regular and repeated use of a controlled substance.
It should be noted that a medical marijuana patient is not, by definition, an unlawful user of a controlled substance. However, most medical marijuana patients probably use it in a manner consistent with the definition. Federal law does not prohibit a patient from obtaining a permit to carry a concealed weapon. They do prohibit the possession of a firearm by a regular marijuana user.
An “Unlawful” User of Marijuana is Prohibited From Purchasing a Firearm
To purchase a firearm from a federally licensed firearms dealer, a person must fill out an ATF Form 4473. This form asks the following:
Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?
Warning: 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 applicant checks the box “yes”, their application will be denied. Additionally, it is a felony to lie on a federal form.
The Takeaway: Medical Marijuana and Concealed Carry
If a medical marijuana patient is a regular user of marijuana, and of course many of them are, they can get a permit to carry a concealed pistol (CPL), but they are in violation of federal law by being in possession (even if not concealed) of a firearm. It is unfortunate, but until federal marijuana policy changes, this is the law.
*While we are now taking in-person consultations according to our COVID-19 policy, we will still conduct Skype, Zoom or phone consultations if that is what the client prefers.
Attorney Morris has enjoyed a very successful and distinguished career as a trial lawyer providing high quality legal representation in the area of state and federal criminal defense for 20 years. He is known for his trial preparation by fellow attorneys, judges and clients alike. As a trial attorney, he is dedicated to attaining justice in every case, and is prepared to take on complex legal issues with success. Barton and his law firm pride themselves on obtaining results for their clients that other attorneys cannot.
Not only does Barton Morris have extensive experience, he also engages in continuing legal education to provide the highest quality legal services. Barton has received specialized scientific training through the American Chemical Society. He attended the prestigious Trial Lawyers College and serves on its Alumni Association Board of Directors. Barton Morris is also a board member of several distinguished legal associations including the Michigan Association of OWI Attorneys, and the DUI Defense Lawyer’s Association Justice Foundation. He is also an active member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys and has also graduated from their National Criminal Defense Trial College in Macon, Georgia.
Barton Morris was chosen as a Top Lawyer of Metro Detroit for 2012, 2013, 2014, 2019 and 2020 for DUI/DWI and criminal defense by DBusiness Magazine and Hour Magazine. Barton Morris was also chosen as a Super Lawyer in Criminal Defense for 2014-2020 and Barton Morris is the only Lawyer in Michigan designated by the American Chemical Society as a “Forensic Lawyer-Scientist”