In Pennsylvania, 34.7 percent of the population are gun owners. And as this state becomes the latest in the nation to roll out a medical marijuana program, authorities warn medical marijuana patients who are registered gun owners that they’re going to have to “make a choice.”
There are more than 800,000 guns that are sold and transferred in Pennsylvania each year. There are also now more than 100,000 people in Pennsylvania who are registered with the state to use medical marijuana.
Medical Marijuana Patients Forbidden to Own Firearms Under Federal Law
Under federal law, medical marijuana patients are forbidden from owning firearms. Last year, the Bureau of Tobacco, Alcohol, Firearms, and Explosives made itself as clear as possible about this law by adding (in boldface) existing marijuana prohibition laws on gun purchase forms.
According to ATF spokeswoman, Janice L. Kemp, “Any person who uses or is addicted to marijuana, regardless of whether his or her state has passed legislation authorizing marijuana use for medical purposes…is prohibited by federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition.”
Pennsylvania Medical Cannabis Patients Concerned
This has medical marijuana patients in Pennsylvania (understandably) upset. Professional auto detailer Phil Gruver is one of them. Gruver received a medical marijuana card in Pennsylvania in mid-December. He is also a registered gun owner in the state. Now Gruver wonders what to do with his handgun and .22-caliber rifle.
“It’s a violation of my Second Amendment rights,” Gruver says. “I don’t know of anytime anyone’s been using marijuana and going out committing acts of violence with a gun. Most of the time they just sit on their couch and eat a pizza.”
With Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently rescinding the Cole Memo that protected states with marijuana laws from federal prosecution, this leaves many registered gun owners wondering how they will be affected. It’s up to federal prosecuters in each state to now decide how they will handle registered gun owners that use medical cannabis.
In Pennsylvania, president of the Pennsylvania Districts Attorney Office, John T. Adams, doesn’t give much hope. “They’re going to have to make a choice,” says Adams. “They can have their guns or their marijuana, but they can’t have both.”