Legalization of medical and recreational marijuana have been spreading across the states, leading to increased struggles between state and federal legislation. But what does this mean for responsible gun owners? U.S. LawShield Independent Program Attorney, Matt Kilgo, breaks down the latest in Georgia law for marijuana use in regards to possessing and owning a firearm.
A law allowing medical marijuana was first passed in 2015 and signed into law by Governor Nathan Deal and again, in 2017 and 2018, that law was amended to include other types of medical conditions. As it stands now, more than a dozen medical conditions are covered under the medical marijuana usage law, which allows for medical marijuana use for conditions such as ALS, Crohn’s Disease, cancer, and even autism.
Official Code of Georgia Annotated 16-12-191 does make it legal for individuals registered with the Department of Health in possession of a registration card and further in possession of pharmaceutical containers labeled by the manufacturer and indicating the percentage of THC therein to possess it. Now, the amount of THC possessed in the medication can be no more than 3%, and this is what we call low THC oil in Georgia statute.
But remember, this very important point; it is still a violation of federal law to possess marijuana. Anyone who uses marijuana or a derivative thereof is prohibited by federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition.
Does that mean the federal government is coming to look for those who use medical marijuana? Probably not. Since 2014, Congress has forbidden the Department of Justice from spending money to prosecute people who either grow, sell, transport, or otherwise use medical marijuana, but there are some prevailing feelings in the current administration to change that and make the use of medical marijuana more restrictive and to prosecute it.
Remember, it is still a violation of federal law. It is also a violation of state law to possess marijuana other than for medical marijuana usage.
Not only that, the law does not make it legal to purchase, ship, or grow medical marijuana in Georgia, meaning that patients have no legal method to obtain it, even if they have a card to use it. State lawmakers in 2018 failed to pass House Bill 645, which would have paved the way to legally grow and harvest medical marijuana in Georgia. Even the acts of such Georgia cities as the City of Atlanta and the City of Clarkston, in decriminalizing marijuana, does not legalize its possession and does not give you the right to possess it or to possess firearms while using it.
Marijuana is still considered a controlled substance in Georgia, and a conviction for manufacture or distribution of controlled substance could be a felony, which means not only would you lose your weapons carry license, as a convicted felon, you would permanently lose the right to possess firearms or ammunition. So, you can obtain the right to use medical marijuana in Georgia, but it is hard to get. If you do have it, the federal government could still prosecute you for possession of marijuana and the state could prohibit your use of firearms, or your possession of firearms while you’re a medical marijuana user, both the state and the federal government.
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