Law Offices of Marc Neff
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Posted On: January 3, 2018 by Marc Neff

Some sick people will have to make a difficult decision: Is taking the medicine they are legally allowed to obtain under state law worth surrendering their constitutional right to keep and bear arms?

You can be an alcoholic, addicted to prescription drugs or have been voluntarily committed to a mental institute and still purchase a firearm under federal law. However, if you obtain a medical marijuana card to treat an illness, you are forbidden under federal law to purchase or own a firearm.

Twenty nine states including Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware have legalized marijuana in some form. However, under federal law, all forms of marijuana remain strictly forbidden.
The Drug Enforcement Agency considers it a Schedule 1 drug, the same category as heroin and LSD, with “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”
The 9th United States Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the federal prohibition does not violate the Second Amendment. Currently, there are no exceptions in federal law for marijuana purportedly used for medicinal purposes, even if it is sanctioned under state law.

The issue can arise when an individual applies to purchase a firearm. A background check would be conducted by the state police and the federal government. If you are a medical marijuana cardholder, you would be flagged and denied. Moreover, on the application forms required by the United States Department of Justice, they will ask if you are an unlawful user of marijuana. If you check “yes”, you would be immediately disqualified. If you were to check “no” and it was discovered you have the medical marijuana card, you would have committed a separate crime by not answering the form truthfully. Additionally, it is unlawful to keep possession of firearms obtained prior to registering for medical marijuana.

People contemplating obtaining a medical marijuana card who have firearms or are interested in purchasing firearms should speak to an attorney to consider their options and the potential consequences.

For more than thirty years, the Law Offices of Marc Neff has been defending the rights of individuals and corporations facing serious criminal charges. Throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and elsewhere, Mr. Neff has successfully defended clients charged with white-collar crimes such as mail fraud and bank fraud, RICO, drug distribution, money laundering, sex crimes and other serious offenses. Mr. Neff and his staff are often consulted on matters involving medical marijuana.

If you have been charged with a crime or believe your rights may have been violated, please contact the Law Offices of Marc Neff for a confidential consultation: 215-563-9800 or via email at

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