Can Medical Marijuana Patients Have a Concealed Weapons Permit in Florida?

As an American citizen, it is your second amendment right to be able to purchase and own a gun. [1] To some people this may be very important, so it is important to know the facts about how having a medical marijuana card might affect your ability to own, carry, or purchase a gun in Florida.

As of now, the states and the federal government have different opinions on the use of medical marijuana. Despite 46 states having medical marijuana legislation, marijuana is still illegal under federal law. The federal government regulates drugs through the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) (21 U.S.C. § 811). This Act does not differentiate between the use of medical and recreational reasons. [2]

Marijuana is treated just like every other controlled substance. It is even labeled as an equivalent to cocaine and heroin. The federal government puts controlled substances in specific categories, known as “schedules”, according to its potential for abuse and its medicinal value. Marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 substance, meaning it is considered to have absolutely no medicinal value and is thought to be highly addictive. Legally, physicians cannot “prescribe” medical marijuana because of federal law, which is why as a Florida Medical Marijuana Patient you are given a “recommendation” for medical marijuana use. 

Because of these subtle differences in legislation, you might be at risk for failing a background check as a Florida Medical Marijuana Patient. Anyone considering using medical marijuana for symptom relief  in Florida needs to know what limitations having a medical marijuana card brings, including the ability to own or carry a gun.

Here, we will provide an overview of getting medical marijuana in Florida and how it may impact your second amendment rights as an American. 

 

Qualifying for a Medical Marijuana Card in Florida

Obtaining a Medical Marijuana Card in Florida is actually a lot easier than you may think. Legislation has outlined 12 qualifying conditions for eligibility to use medical marijuana and other conditions in the same class as those listed conditions. 

These conditions are: [3]

  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to the others listed.
  • A terminal condition diagnosed by a physician other than the qualified physician issuing the physician certification.
  • Chronic nonmalignant pain caused by a qualifying medical condition or that originates from a qualifying medical condition and persists beyond the usual course of that qualifying medical condition.

 

If you have been diagnosed with one of the conditions listed above, you might be eligible for your medical marijuana recommendation. Florida DocMJ Doctors Marijuana and its large network of qualified physicians can help you through the process of getting your medical marijuana card.

 

Florida’s Firearm Legislation

Florida Statutes section 790.06(2)(f) and (n) says that “The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services shall issue a license if the applicant:” [4]

(f) Does not chronically and habitually use alcoholic beverages or other substances to the extent that his or her normal faculties are impaired. It shall be presumed that an applicant chronically and habitually uses alcoholic beverages or other substances to the extent that his or her normal faculties are impaired if the applicant has been convicted under s. 790.151 or has been deemed a habitual offender under s. 856.011(3), or has had two or more convictions under s.316.193 or similar laws of any other state, within the 3-year period immediately preceding the date on which the application is submitted

(n) Is not prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm by any other provision of Florida or federal law.

However, in Florida, applying for a concealed weapons permit and purchasing a firearm are two different things. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement does not require a permit to purchase a firearm nor is there a permit that exempts any person from the background check requirement. [5] 

If an individual meets the state’s requirements for purchasing a firearm without a permit, they can legally purchase a firearm if they pass a background check first.

The Florida state requirements to purchase a firearm are: [5]

  • Must be 21 years of age. Rifles and shotguns may be purchased by a person who is at least 18 when that person is a law enforcement officer or correctional officer as defined in F.S. 943.10 or service member as defined in F.S. 250.01.
  • Must be a Florida resident to purchase a handgun. Long guns may be purchased by persons who are residents of other states so long as the sale complies with applicable laws in the purchaser’s state of residence.
  • Legal permanent resident aliens who are Florida residents may purchase a firearm and must provide a valid alien registration number. Non-resident aliens visiting Florida must present a border crossing number (I-94) and a valid exception document .
  • Florida does not require a permit to purchase a firearm nor is there a permit that exempts any person from the background check requirement.

 

Having a CWP and MMJ Card

With all of this considered, the Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Nicole “Nikki” Fried offers a different opinion on having both your medical marijuana card and your concealed weapons permit. The Commissioner of Agriculture oversees the department that deals with issuing concealed weapons permits. In 2019, Fried stated:

 

“I have both [a concealed weapons permit and medical marijuana card]. So I want to make that very clear, that I will not be taking anybody’s concealed weapons permit or not renewing them. I see no conflict between the two.

 

Certain questions on the Concealed Weapons Permit application can be interpreted in many ways. As an example, questions 14A and 14B asks: [6]

  • 14A “During the three years preceding the date of this application, have you been committed for the abuse of controlled substances, or been found guilty or convicted of a crime under the provisions of Chapter 893, Florida Statutes, or similar laws of any other state, or had multiple arrests for such offenses within the past five years with the most recent arrest occurring within the past year?”

 

  • 14B “During the three years preceding the date of this application, have you been committed for the abuse of alcoholic beverages or other substances under the provisions of Chapter 397, or under the provisions of former Chapter 396, Florida Statutes, or convicted under Section 790.151, Florida Statutes, or been deemed a habitual offender under the provisions of Section 856.011(3), Florida Statutes, or similar laws of any other state?”

 

According to Commissioner Nikki Fried, the word “committed” should be interpreted as “convicted.” This means that if you have never been convicted of a controlled substance-related crime you should answer “no” to this question regardless of your medical marijuana use.

 

Purchasing a Firearm as a MMJ Patient

Now, this is where it gets tricky. Fried has stated in the past: [7]

I think the biggest confusion that most people have is obviously I do not control the ATF form and I don’t control the federal laws on this. So the federal stuff is still a problem. You’ve got an issue when it comes to federal law, but when it comes to our state’s laws regarding the concealed weapons permit, there are no issues.

This issue is highlighted under the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearm’s (ATF) background check application question 11E. This form must be filled out any time a Floridian is purchasing a new firearm. 

Question 11E asks: [8]

“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.

Commissioner Frieds’ interpretation of this question is that she feels as if because she possesses both her MMJ card and her CWP she cannot purchase a new firearm. 

In conclusion, medical marijuana patients are able to have a concealed weapons permit. The only issue that arises in having both is during the background check process when purchasing a new firearm. The answer you give for the ATF Question 11E will determine whether or not you are able to purchase a new gun. 

Current law is less defined, so Florida MMJ Patients are advised to seek legal counsel regarding this legislation.

[1] https://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/amendment/amendment-ii

[2] https://www.safeaccessnow.org/federal_marijuana_law

[3] https://knowthefactsmmj.com/patients/

[4]http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0700-0799/0790/Sections/0790.06.html

[5] https://www.fdle.state.fl.us/FPP/FAQs2.aspx

[6]https://licensing.freshfromflorida.com/forms/DownloadTrkNumPDF.aspx?APPTYPE=CW&STARTPAGE=1

[7] https://www.cannamd.com/florida-firearms-medical-marijuana-nikki-fried-exclusive/

[8] https://www.atf.gov/firearms/docs/4473-part-1-firearms-transaction-record-over-counter-atf-form-53009/download