Some state medical marijuana systems prohibit a person getting the drug from owning a gun, the New York Times reports. Generally, there are few limitations at the federal level on who is eligible to purchase or possess firearms and ammunition. However, the issue is shaping up to be one of the next legal frontiers in the national debate over gun policy, as courts are asked to determine whether the longstanding federal restriction on marijuana users conflicts with Second Amendment gun rights. Medical marijuana is now legal in 38 states, the District of Columbia and four U.S. territories, and more than 3.5 million people are enrolled in state programs to use it to help with seizures, post-traumatic stress disorder, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, pain and other conditions.
The drug remains technically illegal under federal law, which classifies it as having no currently accepted medical use. There have been few prosecutions for lying about marijuana on a gun form or for being caught possessing both, but the penalties can be stiff. Knowingly making a false statement on the document is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and fines. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has continued to issue warnings that possessing a gun as a marijuana user, either for medical or recreational purposes, is a serious crime. “What we have been seeing are dilemmas in which people who may benefit from medical marijuana, which in many cases has been recommended by a doctor, are forced to choose between effective health care and their gun rights,” said Howard Wolfe, who consults on federal firearms policy for a law firm near Philadelphia.