Gun Ownership for MMJ Patients in Texas?

  1. Texas Cannabis
  2. Texas Marijuana Laws
  3. Gun Ownership for MMJ Patients in Texas?

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

Yes. While Texas does not issue medical cannabis cards, a person's participation in the Compassionate Use Program (CUP) does not make them ineligible to possess firearms per se. Even though the FBI has determined that various medical marijuana programs disqualify participants from carrying guns, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has a contrary opinion.

The DPS believes the FBI's determination does not apply to the state's low-THC cannabis CUP and will not prevent a patient from owning a gun, provided it determines that the patient can make sound judgments when handling firearms. However, the DPS agrees that patients' underlying conditions can disqualify them from possessing guns under certain circumstances. Notwithstanding, despite the DPS claims that participating in the CUP does not take away patients' right to own firearms, many have stayed away from guns in compliance with federal laws. Generally, Texas permits open carry and concealed carry of handguns.

Can Texas Medical Cannabis Patients Legally Carry Firearms Without Permits?

Yes. Enacted in September 2021, HB 1927 eliminated the requirement to have a license to carry a firearm in Texas. Therefore, most people aged 21 years and older, including patients enrolled in the CUP, can own and carry guns, openly or concealed, without firearm licenses. However, a person may still apply to the DPS for a License to Carry (LTC) for additional benefits.

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

No. Texas has no state requirements for individuals, including low-THC cannabis patients, for background checks while applying for an LTC or before purchasing firearms. The state does not contribute to the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Hence, licensed firearms dealers must contact the FBI directly to initiate background checks for prospective gun buyers.

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

While getting a gun license is not mandatory in Texas, qualifying patients who have firearm permits can enroll in the state's Compassionate Use Program (CUP). The DPS will only have to determine their qualifying medical conditions will not impede their ability to make rational judgments when handling guns. Furthermore, Texas does not prohibit spouses of patients registered in the CUP from carrying firearms.

Legal History of Gun Ownership for MMJ Patients in Texas

There is no known legislation concerning firearm ownership rights for medical cannabis users in Texas as of January 2024. However, a federal judge in the state recently rejected the Department of Justice's argument that marijuana consumers have no Second Amendment rights in the U.S. v. Paola Connelly case. Paola was charged with unlawful possession of guns after El Paso police found firearms and marijuana in her home in 2021 while responding to a domestic disturbance.

Paola, who claimed using cannabis helps her with anxiety and sleeping, was also charged with transferring firearms to her husband, who also uses cocaine, hence violating 18 U.S.C Section 922 (d)(3). The judge, Kathleen Cardone, was not convinced by the government's argument that Paola was ineligible to own guns because she was not "law-abiding". The judge also said the federal prohibition on transferring firearms to unlawful users of controlled substances, including marijuana, is unconstitutional.

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

In 2011, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Explosives (ATF) wrote an open letter to licensed firearms dealers banning them from selling guns to medical cannabis patients. The letter emphasized the provisions of the Gun Control Act of 1968 (18 U.S.C Section 922(g)), which prohibits illegal users of controlled substances from carrying guns and ammunition. Medical marijuana users are also considered illegal users of controlled substances under federal law.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rulings on the Wilson v. Lynch case further affirmed the position of federal law concerning medical marijuana users' gun rights. Rowan Wilson filed a lawsuit with a federal district after she was refused a gun purchase by a firearms dealer for being a Nevada medical marijuana cardholder. Wilson had contested the constitutionality of the federal law prohibiting medical cannabis patients from carrying firearms, arguing that such violates the Second Amendment rights. The district court dismissed the suit following the ATF's motion. An appeal by Wilson challenging the lower court's verdict was also rejected.

Completing the ATF Form 4473 is required for every firearm purchase from federal firearms licensees (FFLs). Prospective gun owners are advised against lying or providing false information, including details of marijuana use, while filling out the form. Incarceration in federal prison for up to 10 years awaits anyone who provides false statements on Form 4473.

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