Gun Ownership for MMJ Patients in Montana?

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

No. The Montana Medical Marijuana Act is silent about gun possession by medical marijuana patients, but federal laws prohibit marijuana users from possessing and purchasing firearms.

Can Montana Medical Cannabis Patients Legally Carry Firearms Without Permits?

No. Medical cannabis patients cannot legally carry firearms, with or without permits, in Montana. However, per Section 45-8-316 of the Montana Code, persons eligible to possess firearms in the state do not require permits to carry concealed guns from February 2022.

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

No medical marijuana patient in Montana can legally use guns. However, the state does not require background checks for eligible residents to possess firearms. Also, they are not required to disclose their use of marijuana when applying for gun permits in the state.

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

Anyone who owns a firearm in Montana is not expected to obtain a medical marijuana card in the state. However, a patient with an expired medical cannabis card can obtain a gun license if they so wish. The state does not ban spouses of medical cannabis cardholders from owning firearms as long as the spouse does not consume cannabis.

Legal History of Gun Ownership for MMJ Patients in Montana

No Montana law protects marijuana patients’ gun ownership rights as of 2024. While the state amended its laws to allow residents to carry concealed firearms without permits, the legality of medical marijuana cardholders carrying firearms remains a gray area. In 2019, Rep. Daniel Zonilkov sponsored House Bill 577 to protect medical marijuana patients from prosecution for possessing and buying firearms. However, the bill died in the House.

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

After several assassinations, including those of President John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Senator Robert Kennedy, the U.S. enacted the Gun Control Act of 1968. The Act was aimed at imposing stricter regulations on the possession and sale of firearms and prohibiting the sale of guns to illicit drug users, including marijuana users. It also gave the federal government, through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), the responsibility of licensing and regulating firearms manufacture and sales. Persons interested in buying firearms from licensed gun dealers must complete the Firearms Transaction Record form (Form 4473). Form 4473 specifically requires prospective gun buyers to indicate if they use cannabis for any purpose. Providing a false response on this form is a felony punishable by the following penalties:

  • Up to 10 years of incarceration in federal prison
  • Up to $250,000 fines
  • Life ban from purchasing firearms
  • Revocation of firearms

Following the legalization of medical marijuana in several states, the ATF in 2011 published an open letter to licensed gun dealers prohibiting them from selling guns to medical marijuana patients. There have been pockets of lawsuits challenging the prohibition of medical cannabis patients from owning firearms as entrenched in their Second Amendment rights. One such case is the Wilson V. Lynch case decided in 2016.

Rowan Wilson was not denied a gun purchase by a firearms dealer because she owned an active Nevada medical marijuana card. She sued the ATF, United States, and several others for violating her Second Amendment rights. Wilson claimed that the Gun Control Act and the ATF open letter violated her rights to own a gun as recognized by the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution. The District Court dismissed her case, and she filed an appeal at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. However, the Appeal court upheld the verdict of the District Court. The court affirmed that her Second Amendment rights to own firearms were not denied. Rather, the Gun Control Act and ATF’s open letter only prevented her from purchasing a firearm while carrying an active medical marijuana card.

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