Although, Pennsylvania statute allows for a citizen of the Commonwealth to hold a validly issued Medical Marijuana Card, possess approved forms of medical marijuana and have a valid license to carry firearms, it is illegal under federal law. The United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) holds that the possession of medical marijuana is a violation of federal law. Moreover, the mere possession of a valid Medical Marijuana Card and/or the use of medical marijuana, makes a citizen an “unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance.” 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(3).
Marijuana is listed in the Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule I controlled substance, and there are no concessions in federal law for marijuana supposedly used for medicinal purposes, even if such use is authorized by State law. Thus, a person possessing a Medical Marijuana Card, is prohibited by federal law from the purchase or acquisition, possession, or control of a firearm. 27 C.F.R. § 478.32(a)(3).
As such, any person who uses or is addicted to marijuana, regardless of whether his or her State has passed legislation permitting marijuana use for medicinal purposes, is an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance, and is prohibited by federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition. In fact, the mere possession of a Medical Marijuana Card produces an inference that a person is an “unlawful user of or addicted to” a controlled substance pursuant to 27 C.F.R. § 478.32.11.
Although Pennsylvania allows for the legal possession of medical marijuana with a validly issued Medical Marijuana Card, it is unlawful for a citizen to apply for, possess or renew a Pennsylvania License to Carry a Firearm (LTC) because of the controlling statutes of the United States. Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Chapter 18 § 6109(e)(1)(xiv). This law is strictly enforced by the Pennsylvania State Police Firearms Division and is adjudicated by the representing Attorneys of the Pennsylvania State Police in front of an Administrative Law Judge.
Employers and employees should take notice of their State law and recognize that federal law supersedes State law, especially when dealing with Medical Marijuana and the purchase, acquisition, possession, or control of a firearm. Moreover, employers should implement Medical Marijuana policies into their Employee Handbooks to reflect not only State law but also federal law, and reach out to legal counsel to determine whether their organization, business, or certain positions may be subject to federally mandated marijuana prohibitions.
If you have any questions or are in need of assistance in updating your Employee Handbook, please contact one of the attorneys in our Employment Law Group at 1-888-488-2638.