Gun Ownership for MMJ Patients in Alabama?

Can You Own a Gun with a Medical Card in Alabama?

No. Although the legal sale of medical cannabis has yet to begin in the state, the Alabama Medical Cannabis Act makes no provision for gun ownership by registered medical cannabis patients. Under federal laws, it is illegal for medical marijuana patients to own firearms.

Can Alabama Medical Cannabis Patients Legally Carry Firearms Without Permits?

In compliance with federal gun regulations, medical cannabis patients in Alabama will not be able to carry firearms when the state's Medical Cannabis Program launches officially. No provision is made for gun ownership under the state's medical marijuana laws. However, HB 272 eliminated the need for a concealed carry permit to carry pistols in the state. Hence, anyone aged 19 years or older, who is not prohibited by federal or state law to own a firearm can carry a concealed handgun without obtaining a permit.

Does Alabama Require Background Checks for MMJ Patients Seeking Gun Licenses?

Alabama medical marijuana laws make no explicit provisions for gun ownership by registered medical cannabis patients.

Can You Get an Alabama Medical Marijuana Card After Getting a Gun License?

A qualifying medical cannabis patient who owned a gun before applying for an Alamaba medical marijuana card will have to choose between their right to medical cannabis and their firearm. Nothing in the state's Medical Cannabis Act permits registered medical marijuana patients to own guns while carrying active medical marijuana cards. However, spouses of registered medical cannabis patients may be able to own firearms as there are currently no laws prohibiting them from carrying guns.

Legal History of Gun Ownership for MMJ Patients in Alabama

Medical marijuana became legal in Alabama following the passage of SB 46 in May 2021, but the legal sale is not expected to start until mid-2024. While the Alabama Medical Cannabis Act is silent about gun ownership by cannabis patients, as of 2024, there are no state-level legislations on firearm possession or ownership by medical marijuana patients.

What Federal Law Says About the Firearm Rights of Medical Marijuana Users

Per the Gun Control Act of 1968, codified in U.S.C Section 922(g), it is illegal for unlawful users of controlled substances, including medical cannabis, to own firearms. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Explosives (ATF), in 2011, published an open letter to all federal firearms licensees, emphasizing the federal government's stance on the ban on firearms possession by unlawful cannabis users. According to the ATF, cannabis is a Schedule I controlled substance, and no exceptions exist for medical cannabis under federal laws, even in states that have legalized medical marijuana.

In its open letter, the ATF stated that a person's possession of a state-issued medical cannabis card is a reasonable cause for a firearms seller to believe that the person is an unlawful drug user. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has, in the Wilson v. Lynch case, upheld that any cannabis user, including a registered marijuana patient, is an unlawful user under federal law. In this case, an attempt by S. Rowan Wilson, a Nevada medical marijuana cardholder, to purchase a gun was declined by the seller. This led Wilson to file a lawsuit in federal district court challenging the constitutionality of the ATF letter and claiming that the ATF letter violated their Second Amendment rights. However, the ATF's motion to dismiss Wilson's suit was granted by the district court. Wilson appealed the judgment of the district court, which the Court of Appeals eventually affirmed.

It is unlawful to make any false statements when purchasing a gun from a licensed firearms dealer. Answering "no" on question 21(f) regarding cannabis use on the ATF Form 4473 would be a lie for a person who uses marijuana, and this is a federal offense. Such a person risks criminal prosecution for a felony and faces up to 10 years in federal prison.

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