Can You Own a Gun in Louisiana if You Use Medical Marijuana?
You might not have been aware, but the use of medical marijuana has actually been legal in Louisiana since 1978, when Governor Edwin Edwards signed the law allowing only glaucoma and cancer chemotherapy patients the use of medical marijuana.
According to the website thecannabiscommunity.org, the original law from 1978 has been amended several times:
The legislature amended the 1978 law in 1991 so that spastic quadriplegia was included in the list of conditions that could benefit from medicinal marijuana. Medicinal marijuana evaluations and prescriptions were also legalized by HHS in 1994, but there was still no workable system in place for patients to actually get medicine.
In June 2015, Governor Bobby Jindal signed SB 143 and HB 149, establishing a legal framework for medical marijuana distribution and reforming Louisiana’s marijuana possession laws. But medical cannabis products were only made available to patients in the third quarter of 2019. Initially, only tinctures were legal, but as of mid-2022, Louisiana law allows the production of oils, tablets, liquids, topical treatments, and inhalers. Smoking cannabis is not permitted for medical use.
In August 2020, Governor John Bel Edwards signed HB 819, which significantly increased access to candidates with conditions including but not limited to the following:
Traumatic brain injury
Any conditions requiring hospice or palliative care
Any conditions requiring hospice or palliative care that the licensed physician deems debilitating to an individual patient and is qualified through his medical education and training to treat
Recently, the question was posed whether or not someone in Louisiana could legally purchase a firearm if they have a medical marijuana card. According to the Firearms Transaction Record from the US Department of Justice Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, regardless of specific state laws, it is illegal to use or possess marijuana according to Federal Law.
f. Are you a fugitive from justice?
g. 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.
h. Have you ever been adjudicated as a mental defective OR have you ever been committed to a mental institution?
i. Have you ever been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions?
West Virginia Congressman Alex Mooney addresses this very issue.
The Federal Gun Control Act of 1968 and the Federal Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act of 1997 make it illegal for a person who fits into any of the following categories to ship, transport, receive or possess firearms or ammunition.
- Persons who are unlawful users of or are addicted to narcotics or any other controlled substances, including medical marijuana.
- Federal law prohibits medical marijuana users from possessing or buying firearms and ammunition — even if state law allows the drugs use.
Form 4473 of the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) states that anyone attempting to buy a gun from a licensed seller must truthfully answer a series of Yes/No questions, including:
“11.e. Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?”
A marijuana user could, in theory, answer “No” to question 11.e., but that respondent would be violating federal law by doing so and it is a crime punishable as a felony under Federal law, and may also violate State and/or local law.
People who purchase or keep marijuana, even for therapeutic purposes, and even in legal states could be kept from lawfully purchasing or possessing guns according to state gun laws.
It is incorrect to say that legal states “legislated that you lose your right to own a gun” if you purchase marijuana for its medicinal benefits or adult use. Rather, form 4473 of ATF prohibits authorized gun sellers to offer firearms to buyers who declare using marijuana.
When asked about Louisiana's laws concerning Medical Marijuana users owning a gun, Assistant District Attorney Hugo Holland told KEEL News:
Under LA law, one is prohibited from possessing a firearm within 10 years of completion of a sentence when convicted of a violent felony or drug felony.
It is also illegal in LA to possess a firearm while possessing a CDS (controlled dangerous substance) but, if the substance is marijuana, the possessor must have more than 14 grams for this law to kick in.
I am unaware of any prohibition of possession a firearm while legally having marijuana, and the only penalty for the illegal possession of less than 14 grams of marijuana, whether one has a firearm or not, is merely a fine.
In NY Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, Clarence Thomas wrote for a 6 person majority of SCOTUS that gun control statutes are per se unconstitutional unless they are "consistent with this Nation's historical tradition of firearm regulation." In other words, if at the time the constitution was drafted as passed, a firearm regulation was widespread and accepted, it will pass constitutional muster. If not, it won't.
So, let's take drugs for example. Until the 20th century, there were virtually no effective regulations of narcotics in the US. Thus, it was legally impossible for someone in 1780 to be convicted of possession of opium since that was not a crime when the constitution was ratified. Thus, goes the Bruen logic, at the time of its ratification, there were no prohibitions of persons being convicted of possessing drugs having guns, and thus any present day statute which prohibits it now will likely not pass the Bruen test.
So it seems according to Federal Law, it is not legal. But, and this is where it gets off in the weeds a bit, but there is no state statute specifically prohibiting a resident with a Medical Marijuana card from legally owing a firearm.