Can Gun Owners Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Arizona?
If you own a gun and would like to obtain a medical marijuana card in Arizona, it’s important to first brush up on the laws. Unfortunately, these laws are inconsistent at the state and federal level, so they require some discernment from the patient/buyer.
We’re here to provide a general overview to help you understand your options, but we are not legal experts and the information in this article is not intended as legal advice. It’s best to speak with an attorney before deciding whether or not to apply for a medical marijuana card as a gun owner.
Can You Purchase a Gun if You Have a Medical Card in Arizona?
Arizona law allows for medical marijuana patients to own guns. If you have a medicinal need for cannabis and are registered as a patient with the state, you are considered a lawful user and will not be barred from purchasing a gun—at least by the state.
However, Arizona law and federal law are two very different things.
At the federal level, cannabis is considered a Schedule I Controlled Substance. Not only that, but the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) expressly prohibit cannabis users from owning guns. This law goes back to the Gun Control Act of 1968.
The ATF made this clear in an open letter to gun dealers in 2011. According to the letter: "Any person who uses or is addicted to marijuana, regardless of whether his or her State has passed legislation authorizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes, is an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance, and is prohibited by Federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition."
If you attempt to purchase a new firearm from a dealer in Arizona, the dealer will first ask you to complete ATF Form 4473, the Firearms Transaction Record. One of the questions on the form asks if you’re an “unlawful user of or addicted to marijuana.”
If you consume marijuana, you have to answer “Yes.” To falsify information on this form is perjury. But if you check “Yes,” the dealer is prohibited from completing the sale. In other words, you’ll be sent on your way.
But what if you already have a gun and you want to become a patient?
Can You Become an AZ Medical Marijuana Patient if You Own a Gun?
Under federal law, marijuana users are prohibited from possessing any firearms or ammunition. However, an Arizona medical marijuana doctor is not at liberty to ask you about your gun ownership status, nor is the Arizona Department of Health Services. In the eyes of the state, you’re not breaking any laws.
Additionally, the state has not historically used its law enforcement resources to pursue gun-owning marijuana users, and there are no documented cases of federal agents going after AZ medical marijuana users for owning guns. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever run into any legal issues, but the faint possibility does exist by virtue of the contradictory state and federal laws.
Ultimately, it’s at your discretion whether or not to pursue a medical marijuana card as a gun owner. While the combination of factors does violate federal law, so does marijuana usage in itself—so unfortunately it’s a complex issue. Your best bet is to speak with knowledgeable legal counsel if you have concerns.
Can You Consume Recreational Marijuana as a Gun Owner in Arizona?
If you purchase cannabis in any capacity—medicinal or recreational—and you’re a gun owner, you’re technically in violation of federal law. The only difference is that some medical patients are concerned about having their names specifically associated with marijuana in a patient database.
In either case, though, the risk is negligible. Federal agents are prohibited from broadly cross-referencing gun registries with medical marijuana registries, and they can only access information in a state marijuana database if they have a subpoena to do so. But while federal agents aren’t routinely cracking down on medical marijuana users, it’s still important to understand the laws and risks and to make an informed decision about how to proceed. Again, expert legal counsel can be invaluable here.
While the laws may change in the coming years, the situation right now is a legally complex one. Consider your options carefully, and decide what is best for you.