Gun Ownership for MMJ Patients in Arkansas?

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

Yes, it is legal for medical marijuana cardholders in Arkansas to own firearms per Act 757. Enacted in April 2023, this Act permits registered medical cannabis patients in the state to possess concealed carry handguns and protects the rights of those who own them.

Can Arkansas Medical Cannabis Patients Legally Carry Firearms Without Permits?

Yes. Registered medical marijuana patients in Arkansas are required to obtain concealed carry licenses to be able to carry firearms legally. Per Section 1(B) of Act 757, a person's status as an enrolled patient in the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Program will not be used to determine their eligibility for a concealed handgun license.

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

Yes. A cannabis patient in Arkansas will not be issued a gun license unless they undergo a background check. The background check must be completed through the Division of Arkansas State Police and the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

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

A person's current concealed carry license in Arkansas will not become invalid for getting a state-issued Registry ID Card (medical marijuana card). In addition, obtaining a Registry ID Card after getting a gun license in the state is not illegal. Similarly, a medical cannabis patient whose Registry ID card has expired is allowed to get a firearm. A person's status as a medical marijuana patient in Arkansas will not prevent their spouse from getting gun licenses or owning firearms.

Legal History of Gun Ownership for MMJ Patients in Arkansas

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act of 2016, which legalized medical cannabis in the state, did not make provisions for firearm possession by registered medical marijuana patients. Hence, no medical cannabis user had the legal right to obtain a gun license or carry a firearm until 2023, when the state legislature passed House Bill 1784. The bill amended the state's law concerning concealed handguns and aimed to protect the rights of medical cannabis patients and caregivers to obtain licenses to carry concealed handguns.

HB 1784 was introduced in the House on 29th March 2023, read three times, and was passed on 4th April 2023, when it was passed to the Senate. After three readings, the Senate passed the bill and returned it to the House on 7th April 2023. The bill was transmitted to the Governor's Office on 10th April 2023 and became Act 757 on 12th April 2023 after the governor signed it into law.

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

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Explosives (ATF) published a set of guidelines for federally licensed firearms dealers in 2011. These guidelines included a clause prohibiting firearm dealers from selling guns to unlawful users or addicts of controlled substances. Marijuana remains a Schedule I controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), and there are no exceptions for medicinal cannabis under federal laws. The 2011 guidelines released by the ATF support the federal stance on gun ownership rights of medical marijuana patients. It upholds the provisions of the Gun Control Act of 1968, which prohibits unlawful controlled substance users from possessing guns.

Federal standpoint on firearm ownership rights of medical marijuana users was further substantiated by the ruling of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in the Wilson v. Lynch case. This was a case involving Rowan Wilson, a medical marijuana cardholder who wanted to purchase a gun from a licensed firearm dealer. However, the dealer, who was aware that Wilson was a medical cannabis user, declined to sell the gun, citing the need to comply with the 2011 ATF guidelines. Following this, Wilson headed to a federal district court and filed a suit, claiming the dealer's refusal to deal was a violation of Second Amendment rights. However, the district court ruled in favor of the ATF. Afterward, Wilson appealed the ruling, but the Court of Appeals upheld the district court ruling.

To avoid committing an offense punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment in federal prison, make sure to provide honest answers when filling out the ATF Form 4473. It is unlawful for anyone to lie to a licensed firearms dealer about marijuana use when purchasing a gun.

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