Changes in marijuana laws have swept through the country. For residents of New Jersey, it has been a rollercoaster ride. The medical marijuana program is a target of frequent legislation as more qualifying conditions are added. Recreational use has been a hot topic lately, with voters expected to make a final decision on the matter in 2020. What often gets overlooked in these debates is that fact that marijuana is still considered an illegal substance at the federal level. As a result, people who hold a medical marijuana card are prohibited from buying or possessing firearms. If you are a marijuana user who lives in or is visiting New Jersey, be aware that having a gun could result in potentially serious charges requiring a strong criminal defense.
State Versus Federal Marijuana Laws
Under federal law, marijuana is classified as an illegal substance. Under U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) drug schedules, it is categorized under Schedule I, meaning it has no approved medical uses and a high potential for abuse. At the same time, each state is permitted to make their own laws regarding marijuana usage.
Scientists have conducted much research on the medical use of marijuana and its potential to help people suffering from a wide range of conditions. Among the benefits are relief from pain, anxiety, sleeplessness, and inflammation. It is also known to reduce nausea and the likelihood of seizures. It has been shown to be effective in helping people with a broad range of health conditions, including:
- Anxiety and depression;
- Sleep disorders;
- Epilepsy and other seizure disorders;
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS);
- Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other neurological disorders.
As a result of these benefits, the National Council of State Legislators (NCSL) report that it is now legal in 34 states (including New Jersey), as well as in the District Of Columbia. Nearly a dozen others have legalized it for recreational use as well. However, these laws do not change the fact that it is still considered illegal by the federal government and thus is subject to any federal laws in place.
Marijuana Use and Gun Ownership
The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) has repeatedly warned people that under Title 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(d)(8) and (g)(8), anyone who uses or is addicted to any controlled substance is prohibited from buying, selling, or possessing firearms. This is true regardless of the state they are living in and whether that state has laws legalizing marijuana for any use.
Gun dealers and authorized representatives are governed by federal laws and are prohibited from selling firearms under these conditions. While it can be difficult to prove someone is using marijuana without a drug test, having a medical marijuana card will appear as part of your background check. Under these circumstances, purchasing a gun is illegal, whether at a brick and mortar gun shop, a gun show, or through online dealers.
Regardless of whether you live in New Jersey or are from another state where marijuana is legal, if you are stopped by law enforcement and found with a gun in your possession you could end up facing serious criminal charges. In some situations, mandatory minimum sentencing requirements may result in a potentially lengthy jail sentence.
Get Our Middlesex Criminal Defense Attorneys on Your Side
At the Law Office of Jordan B. Rickards, Esq., we defend the rights of people facing gun charges and other weapons related offenses.To protect your rights, get our team fighting on your side. Call or contact our Milltown criminal defense attorneys right away to request a consultation.