Maryland Gun Laws and Cannabis

Maryland Senate Passes Bill That Allows Medical Cannabis Patients to Own Guns

On March 7, 2019, the Maryland Senate passed a bill, SB97, that would allow Maryland medical cannabis patients to own a firearm. The vote was 46-0 by the full Senate after the Senate Judicial Proceedings committee passed it by 11-0 on March 1. In doing so, Maryland has deviated from the policy of most medical cannabis states; a ban on patients owning guns or at least restrictions on where they can purchase them.

The bill has bipartisan support from Senator Michael Hough (R) and Senator Robert Zirkin (D). The bill reads as follows:

A person may not be denied the right to purchase, possess, or carry a firearm under this title solely on the basis that this person is authorized to use medical cannabis under title13, subtitle of the health-general article.

The federal government continues to wield power in restricting the right of medical cannabis patients to buy firearms. The use or possession of cannabis is still illegal under Federal law, regardless of its legality or decriminalization for medicinal or recreational purposes in any state.

If you buy a gun from a Federal Firearms License dealer (FFL), you must answer the question truthfully about whether or not you unlawfully use any controlled substances, which includes cannabis.

While the federal Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA) would still be the law of the land, the passage of SB97 would remove all local enforcement of the law.

The GCA is a federal law that regulates the firearms industry, primarily focusing on interstate commerce. It prohibits firearms from being transferred from one state to another except for licensed manufacturers, dealers and importers. Anyone running a business buying or selling firearms must have a FFL. Individuals who buy and sell firearms without a FFL may only do so for their own personal collection.

Even in legal medical cannabis states, the federal government does not recognize medical cannabis usage anywhere in the US as “legal.” As long as cannabis remains on the Controlled Substance List of 1970 as a Schedule I drug, this will not change. 

Once state and local enforcement of gun restrictions in legal states ends on medical cannabis patients, the federal government tends to curtail its activities. That is because most federal operations rely on the help and support of law enforcement in each individual state.  

The Maryland State Police oversee gun ownership in the state. They previously had a legal right to ask prospective gun buyers if they have a medical cannabis card. Gun buyers are subject to disclosure by the Maryland State Health Department if they applied for a card. The passage of SB97 would ban such practices.

Examples of Gun Laws in Other States

In Illinois, if you already own a gun, you do not have to give it up. You are entitled to purchase a Firearms Owners Identification Card (FOID) and a Concealed Carry License (CCL). However, if you want to purchase a new gun, you must do so from a private dealer rather than from a Federal Firearms License (FFL) dealer.

In Hawaii, medical cannabis patients who own guns have received letters giving them 30 days to turn in their weapons.

The next step is for the bill to proceed to the House committee and if it passes, to move on to the entire House. As of this writing, I do not see any indication that the Maryland House committee has set a date for a vote.

Source: blog.tenthamendment.com, Maryland Senate Unanimously Passes Bill To Ban State Police from Denying Firearms to Medical Marijuana Users, Mar 7, 2019, Michael Boldin
wikipedia.org, Gun Control Act of 1968