In the state of Florida, you can legally own a gun, or semi-legally treat an illness using marijuana, but the harsh reality is that you can’t do both. As of the writing of this article there are already 21 dispensaries in the state of Florida, ready to fulfill medical marijuana orders. Approximately 50,000 Floridians have signed up to take advantage of this decriminalized medical treatment. There were originally some questions about how difficult it would be to implement the voter-created addition to the Florida Constitution, but now it appears as if lawmakers are finally on track. There are still roadblocks to those hoping to use marijuana legally. First, non-medical use is unquestioningly illegal in the state of Florida, and you can be arrested without a medical card. Second, marijuana is a controlled substance according to federal law, and illegal under the Controlled Substances Act. This means, that even with a medical card, the federal government can come after marijuana users. There is wide support for legalization though; 29 states, and D.C. have legalized at least some sort of marijuana use. Alaska, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and (as of the new year) California all allow full recreational use. Even though the president and the justice department have recently made statements that prosecutors would have more power to go after marijuana, this seems to only be against large scale distribution. Those using marijuana with a medical card have very little to worry about as far as federal law enforcement goes.
This state of semi-legality has some people wondering, if it’s technically still illegal, but without enforcement, how does that affect other rights? Federal law states that any user of illegal drugs cannot be in possession of a firearm. The legal community is fairly certain the feds won’t be going after marijuana users in decriminalized states such as Florida, but what about marijuana medical card holders who also own guns? At least one Florida firearms expert believes this may be an issue. Florida state Rep. Cord Byrd (R), from Jacksonville, warns that “Eventually, someone will get made an example of to dissuade other people from having both [a medical marijuana card and a firearm]. People need to be aware they could run afoul of federal law if they come across the wrong federal prosecutor at the wrong place at the wrong time.” There is no gun registry, so it’s impossible for that hypothetical federal prosecutor to go hunting without probable cause. No matter the real-world risk It is certainly not advised to be in possession of both.
The question that we have received from multiple people is a little bit different, does a marijuana card interfere with my Concealed Weapon or Firearm License (CWL)? The direct answer is no. While federal law likely allows federal agents to force Florida to retract that license, just having one is not a violation of federal law. The issue is not with the license itself, but rather harkening back to the original violation, seldom would a person own a CWL without also owning a firearm, a right that is out of bounds for a marijuana card holder.
So far, this article has not discussed any situations where it is likely any federal prosecutor will come after you. Our law firm does not advise taking part in any illegal activity of any kind, but the truth is that federal prosecutors are not currently going after medical marijuana users, card-holders and users who own a firearm which never leaves the house are also unlikely to ever be prosecuted. If you wish to engage in any of this, do so at your own risk, but the risk is at least minimum compared to most crimes. The real danger for medical marijuana users who own firearms comes from fraud. In order to purchase a firearm, you must fill out an ATF form 4473. This form includes asking if the firearm purchaser is addicted to, or a user of any controlled substances. This includes marijuana, and a medical card means it is implied you are a user. The holder of a card has two options, lie and face 4 years in prison for something that is easily verifiable by the ATF, or tell the truth and almost for sure be rejected. I would like to emphasize once again, our firm does not recommend taking part in any activity that is technically or clearly illegal, but of all the actions mentioned thus far in the article, this is the most dangerous. If you were to theoretically purchase from a private individual, this would not require a form 4473, but is still illegal and inadvisable.
Ultimately, in the state of Florida, you can either own a gun, or treat an illness using marijuana, unfortunately both is not an advisable option due to federal law. If you have any questions about how state and federal law affect your rights, contact a qualified attorney who can help you. Our attorneys are experienced in Florida and federal gun and drug laws, and can answer questions on how best to approach these activities. If you have any issues and you’re arrested or cited by law enforcement then you need an attorney who will work hard to defend your rights in order to have the best possible outcome. Call our office any time at 850/681-7777 to set a free consultation.
 Florida Marijuana Dispensaries, Potguide.com, last visited Jan 16, 2018, https://potguide.com/florida/marijuana-dispensaries/.
 Skylar Swisher, Medical marijuana industry expands with new South Florida dispensary,
 21 U.S.C. § 811 (2012).
 Charlie Savage & Mark Healy, Trump Administration Takes Step that Could Threaten Marijuana Legalization Movement, New York Times, Jan 4, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/04/us/politics/marijuana-legalization-justice-department-prosecutions.html.
 David Goodhue, Federal Law Prohibits Medical Marijuana Users from Owning Guns, Fl Keys News, Jan 4, 2018, http://www.flkeysnews.com/news/local/article193039509.html.
Blog Written By:
J Brent Marshall, Florida State University College of Law and Pumphrey Law, Law Clerk
Attorney Don Pumphrey, Jr. is a former prosecutor, former law enforcement officer, and a successful and experienced criminal defense attorney. Don has achieved over 100 not guilty verdicts at trial and over 2,000 dismissals.
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