Can MS, Medical Marijuana, and Guns Safely Coexist?

U.S. federal law prevents medical marijuana users from owning guns

Ed Tobias avatar

by Ed Tobias |

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It seems to me from my anecdotal observations that a fair number of people living with multiple sclerosis (MS) have a gun. When I wrote about the issue a few years ago, I discovered that more people than I expected had both a gun and MS. Additionally, many people with MS use some form of medical marijuana. So should a person using medical marijuana be allowed to have a gun?

U.S. federal law prohibits anyone who unlawfully uses a controlled substance from possessing a firearm or ammunition. Even though many states have legalized the use of marijuana for medical and recreational purposes, in the eyes of the federal government, anyone using marijuana, even medically, is an unlawful user of a controlled substance.

A few years ago, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) even added a warning about this on Form 4473, which must be filled out when purchasing a gun from a dealer. It reads: “Warning: The use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under Federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medicinal or recreational purposes in the state where you reside.”

Under federal law, you can’t have a gun and possess marijuana.

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Florida is suing to change this

This issue recently was raised in Florida. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which issues concealed weapons permits, is challenging the federal rules on gun ownership and marijuana use. The department filed a lawsuit last spring arguing that the rules “forbid Floridians from possessing or purchasing a firearm on the sole basis that they are state-law-abiding medical marijuana patients,” CBS Miami reported.
The lawsuit includes plaintiffs who are medical marijuana patients and want to own guns, along with a plaintiff who is a gun owner and wants to participate in Florida’s medical marijuana program.
Will Hall, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs, told The News Service of Florida that the regulation prohibiting medical marijuana users from owning guns makes people “less safe” by forcing people to purchase guns privately rather than from a store that follows ATF protocols.

An informal survey taken by an online MS group about five years ago indicated that most people with MS are interested in using medical marijuana, and many of them, including me, have tried it.
I’m concerned about mixing medical marijuana and guns. I’ve never owned a gun, but over the years, I’ve fired rifles and handguns. My belief is that if the THC/CBD blend in the cannabis products I was using was strong enough to ease my symptoms, then I was “stoned” and would be totally unable to accurately — or responsibly — fire a weapon.

Can medical marijuana and guns safely coexist? Please share your thoughts in the comments below and at our MS News Today Forums. You’re also invited to visit my personal blog at www.themswire.com.


Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

Comments

Susan S avatar

Susan S

I’m Canadian - we tend to like cannabis way more than guns. Frankly, I think alcohol and guns are an infinitely more dangerous combination than cannabis and guns.

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Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Thanks for the comment, Susan. You may be right. Alcohol is certainly easier to get.

Ed

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Stacy O avatar

Stacy O

I have known how to shoot since I was 10?, & smoked MJ every day since around 21. It doesn't affect my shooting, except I may not feel like doing it more often. It's funny that in OH at least, you can carry a gun into a BAR & drink though. MJ keeps you calm, while for some alcohol fires you up.

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Olivier Fouques avatar

Olivier Fouques

With guns, the big danger is alcool, not so much marijuana since marijuana tends to relax you and makes you sleep also, marijuana gives you mostly the munches that makes you eat. 😉

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Leanne Broughton avatar

Leanne Broughton

I am also a Canadian. I agree that alcohol and guns are also a bad combination. But then I am against the ownership of guns (hunters excluded) for the common population.

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Kim Ahmed avatar

Kim Ahmed

Interesting article. Most people I’ve encountered using cannabis get mellow & funny, not violent thinking. I have to agree that alcohol causes more mean feelings in some. Sad that we have to carry because we look like a easy target!

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Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Kim,

Thanks for your comments. I'm not concerned about violent feelings as much as a worry about a person's ability to get off a steady shot. I once wrote about a woman who carries in the pouch of her walker and I pictured her holding the walker with one hand and firing with another. It didn't seem to me to be a good idea.

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Allan Kyte avatar

Allan Kyte

I think that for the Americans ,"once a cowboy ,always a cowboy and the cannabis is incidental . I have however recently submitted a letter to the press following a lot of negative coverage about cannabis, which is nonsense, as my wife did the trials for this product some twenty years ago and has used it daily ever since ,as a very effective severe pain control!
with no ill effects ,if used correctly
Allan Kyte

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Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Allan,

I'm curious about what blend your wife uses and what kind of affect it has on her in addition to helping ease her pain. Do you think someone could safely fire a weapon while under the influence?

Ed

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Jen avatar

Jen

Yikes! I'm a longtime medical marijuana user and luckily live in Australia where only farmers and sporting shooters need guns. The most I have to worry about is getting stopped by police and tested while driving. I wouldn't mind being a test-case in the courts, but the thought of losing my drivers license, even temporarily, scares me.

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Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Jen,

I don't think I could be safe using and driving and I've never tried. (Not even in college!)

Ed

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Jen avatar

Jen

Ed, my drops are almost all CBD, maybe a tiny bit of THC, and I've never experienced even the slightest 'stone' off them. And I only take them at night, before bed. They might fail me in a saliva test though. Apparently a sip of dilute vinegar swished around the mouth would save me and I have considered keeping a bottle in the car.

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Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Jen,

Thanks for the info. I've tried 100% CBD drops before bed and they don't seem to help. Maybe what I've needed was that tiny bit of THC.

Ed

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Christine F avatar

Christine F

"So should a person using medical marijuana be allowed to have a gun?"

The question you present is definitely a good one and was bound to be discussed at some point. All of your concerns are justified, but like many have said in this thread, they'd be more concerned about those using alcohol rather than marijuana. I would agree with that, as well.

I also tend to believe it is very situational. Ed mentions having written about a woman with MS carried a guy in a pouch of her walker. I can see the image he presents, but I also have some other thinking points for that scenario:
1. What form of MS does she have? How progressed? Symptoms?
2. Does she have any experience or training with the gun?
3. Adrenaline, when in a situation and needing to use that gun, will give that woman a rush that will momentarily increase the blood flow to the brain and muscles. It will not take the pain away, but it will be a distraction from the pain. Adrenaline also has been known to increase mental concentration.
4. This list can go on with many other probables and hypotheticals.

Because there are many scenarios and variables that we can use within this discussion, my theory is that it is all dependent on the person and the situation. I have MS and function without many even noticing I have my "quirks" and struggles day to day. But I have also met those younger than me and fight to be able to carry a conversation or do simple tasks.

My nickname is Annie Oakley where I come from in Southern Ohio, and I assure you that if I am ever presented with the situation of needing to use my firearm, I will not hesitate, both hands and steady shot! Would I want someone that experiences tremors from their MS holding that gun in my stead? I would have to say I will be exercising "duck and cover," for sure!

I appreciate this article and it also has piqued a bit of anger because I would fall into that category of individuals. Respectfully said, this has given me something to present, not only to my physicians, but also to my state representatives. Kudos to Ed. Thank you, Sir!

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Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi "Annie,"

I'm glad you liked my "food for thought" and thanks for giving this discussion another perspective. It all comes down, I think, to personal responsibility. It will be interesting to see what your physicians and state reps think about this. Please post again and let us know

Ed

Ed

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