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How does medical marijuana affect gun ownership in Pennsylvania?

As 2017 ends and 2018 begins, Pennsylvania residents who qualify will have access to medical marijuana. However, due to a conflict between the state medical marijuana law and federal gun laws, gun owners will be caught in a dilemma. They will have to decide whether to use medical marijuana or keep their firearms, because they will not be able to legally do both.

Under the Federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970, marijuana is a Schedule 1 narcotic, which is illegal, like cocaine or heroin. Moreover, federal law recognizes no acceptable medical use for marijuana. These factors combined put marijuana users - even those in states where it's legal - on the ATF's "naughty list" for gun ownership.

Medical marijuana users in Pennsylvania will not face state drug charges, but if they continue to keep their firearms after receiving a medical marijuana card, they could end up on the wrong side of federal gun charges. Meanwhile, drivers convicted of a DUI or patients who are prescribed opioids are free to keep their firearms. The hypocrisy of the laws has not been lost on the state's legal community.

Individuals who are gun owners and interested in obtaining a Pennsylvania medical marijuana card should consult an experienced criminal defense attorney before doing so. An attorney can help gun owners go over their options and weigh the consequences of obtaining a medical marijuana card. Each situation is unique and should be reviewed on a case-to-case basis. The choices may come down to forgoing medical marijuana or giving up the firearms they already own - and not attempting to make future purchases.

Source:, "FDA regulation of marijuana: Past actions, future plans," Douglas C. Throckmorton, Apr. 12, 2016

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