Gun Ownership for MMJ Patients in Utah?

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

Yes, the Utah Medical Cannabis Act permits medical marijuana cardholders in the state to own guns and allows them to conceal carry their firearms. Per Section 68-37-3.8, a law enforcement officer may not use local or state resources to enforce a law that limits a person's right to own a firearm solely for possessing or using marijuana in line with state cannabis laws.

Can Utah Medical Cannabis Patients Legally Carry Firearms Without Permits?

Utah medical cannabis cardholders do not need permits to possess or own guns. Generally, it is legal for anyone aged 21 years or older to carry a concealed firearm without a gun license in the state, per Section 76-10-523(5) of the Utah Code. However, a Utah medical marijuana patient may need a concealed carry permit to conceal carry in another state with firearm reciprocity agreement with Utah.

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

Firearm licenses are not required for qualified residents, including medical marijuana patients, to own guns in Utah. As a result, state law exempts background check requirements for anyone seeking a gun license. Similarly, Utah concealed firearm license holders are excused from federal background check requirements when buying guns.

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

Yes. Utah medical cannabis law allows anyone with a gun license who also qualifies for medical marijuana treatment in accordance with state law to obtain medical marijuana cards. In addition, no Utah law prohibits spouses of registered medical marijuana patients from owning or possessing firearms.

Legal History of Gun Ownership for MMJ Patients in Utah

In December 2018, Governor Gary Herbert signed House Bill 3001 (the Utah Medical Cannabis Act) into law to codify Proposition 2, the ballot measure that legalized medical marijuana in the state. The Act includes a clause prohibiting law enforcement officers from devoting state or local resources and their time to arresting cannabis users who own firearms. As of early 2024, Utah has no known litigation regarding gun rights in relation to medical marijuana.

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

Under federal law, it is illegal for anyone who has a medical marijuana card to own or possess a firearm or ammunition. Regardless of state law, such a person can be prosecuted under federal law as long as cannabis remains illegal under federal law. Per the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA), it is unlawful for any individual who is an unlawful user of any controlled substance, as defined in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), to own or possess a firearm or ammunition. Since the CSA lists cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance, it then becomes illegal for any cannabis user, including medical marijuana patients, to own or possess a gun. Federal law equally prohibits a person from purchasing, owning, or carrying a firearm for 1 year after they stop using cannabis.

An open letter was published by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Explosives (ATF) to federal firearms licensees (FFLs) in 2011. The letter reminded FFLs to always comply with federal laws regarding the firearms rights of medical cannabis users. It emphasized the illegality of selling guns to unlawful users of controlled substances, including medical marijuana patients. The ATF requires prospective gun owners to complete the ATF Form 4473 when buying firearms from licensed firearms dealers. It is unlawful and a punishable offense for anyone to lie on this form. For instance, a person who lies about their cannabis use on question 21(f) of the form risks a 10-year jail term in federal prison.

In 2016, the ATF's stance and federal laws banning guns for medical marijuana patients were challenged at a federal district court in the Wilson v. Lynch case. S. Rowan Wilson, who was a Nevada medical cannabis cardholder, was denied a gun purchase by a licensed firearm dealer. This prompted Wilson to file a suit questioning the constitutionality of the GCA, arguing that the law violated her Second Amendment rights. However, the federal district court dismissed Wilson's case. Although Rowan appealed the district court's judgment, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling made by the lower court. The Judge, Loretta Lynch, stated that Wilson lacked the right to purchase a firearm because she possessed a medical marijuana card.

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