Can Medical Cannabis Patients Legally Own a Gun in Colorado?

The use of medical cannabis has soothing benefits for various health conditions. It helps over 5.4 million medical cannabis patients cope with severe pain, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and many other qualifying conditions. Knowing your state’s laws regarding cannabis and its use is an essential part of the journey and shouldn’t be overlooked. 

In Colorado, medical cannabis has been legal since 2000, and recreational cannabis since 2012. Although the legalization of cannabis has opened doors to a booming industry and helped patients alike, it has also created some discourse on constitutional rights, including the Second Amendment.

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution “protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.” 

This amendment has different restrictions from state to state, so you must become familiar with your state’s and local area gun laws.

The Gun Control Act of 1968 regulates the firearm industry and firearms ownership. The Gun Control Act makes it unlawful for certain people to own or possess firearms. This includes those “adjudicated as mentally defective or committed to any mental institution and those addicted to any controlled substance.”

This opens the floor for the question, can I legally own a gun and still obtain a MMJ card in Colorado?

What are Colorado’s gun laws? 

In Colorado, gun laws are governed by two statutes set by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firaram, and Explosives (ATF). 

  • Title 18 restricts who can carry concealed weapons 
  • Title 33 restricts where you can carry an open concealed weapon

To legally possess a handgun, you must apply with your local sheriff’s office to obtain your license to carry a concealed weapon, or CCW, permit. Colorado is considered an “open-carry” state, which means you can carry your handgun in visible sight without a permit and without it being considered a crime. To “concealed carry,” carrying a handgun in a way that is not visible to others, you must have a valid permit.

Although Colorado is considered an “open-carry” state, there are still places where carrying a gun in the open is restricted, like in schools and government buildings. The state law prohibits open carry altogether in areas that attract large crowds, like airports, stadiums, universities, and colleges. 

Age isn’t the only requirement for owning a gun in Colorado. People classified as felons, people with misdemeanors like domestic violence, and those with court-documented mental health issues are prohibited from owning a firearm altogether.

Can you have a gun permit and medical cannabis license in Colorado?

Having a Colorado MMJ card might make you ineligible to get a gun license. 

Under the current law, a sheriff has the authority to reject a CCW permit application if the applicant is prohibited from owning a firearm under Colorado or federal law or is an illegal user or addict of a prohibited substance as defined by federal law or regulation. Sheriffs can obtain this information by checking the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Medical cannabis Registry.

In 2019, Senate Bill 93 was introduced by Senator Vicki Marble and Representative Bri Buentello. This bill clarifies that medical cannabis patients in Colorado are eligible for concealed-carry permits while barring the Department of Public Safety from sharing confidential information relating to the medical cannabis evaluation and certification with law enforcement. However, this bill is currently on hold. 

In recent news, U.S. District Judge Patrick Wyrick ruled the gun ban for cannabis users as unconstitutional as it disregards the person’s rights to the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Pros and Cons of Colorado’s Gun Law 

The main topic of discussion is whether medical cannabis patients should be allowed to obtain their handgun permits. As more individuals rely on cannabis to manage their conditions, this could potentially create challenges for their right to possess firearms.

However, it’s important to note that there are processes in place to regulate who can carry concealed weapons, and not everyone using cannabis to treat their condition should automatically be viewed as a threat. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) has added a question to gun purchase applications regarding the use of cannabis. Answering truthfully could result in a denied application or criminalization, which could prompt some individuals to try to obtain firearms unlawfully.

Overall, it’s important to strike a balance between ensuring public safety and respecting the rights of individuals holding a medical cannabis card. By continuing to have open discussions about these topics, we can work towards finding solutions that benefit everyone involved.

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Here at Relaxed Clarity, our team of cannabis physicians is dedicated to assisting you throughout your medical cannabis journey. Our cannabis clinic is here to provide you with answers to your cannabis questions and discuss the latest news in the cannabis industry. Follow our blog to stay updated.