Photo via Predrag Vuckovic
A German court has denied a medical cannabis user's appeal to have his firearms license reinstated, creating a precedent that will most likely block German MMJ users from owning guns. The ruling was handed down in the case of a hunter from Miesbach whose hunting and firearms licenses were revoked due to his legal use of medical cannabis. In a statement, authorities said that they made this decision based on an expert opinion stating that the mental well-being of a cannabis user cannot be guaranteed.
The hunter appealed this decision to a higher court, asking for the reinstatement of both licenses. This week, a Bavarian court dismissed the appeal, ruling that gun owners must always be capable of exercising caution when handling weapons and ammunition. The judge said that any amount of cannabis could potentially impair one's ability to safely use a weapon, even if said cannabis use was legally prescribed by a doctor.
The Cabinet of Germany approved an extremely limited medical cannabis law in 2016, allowing seriously ill individuals with “no therapeutic alternative” to use cannabis. Last year, the law was expanded to also allow patients suffering from serious illnesses like multiple sclerosis or chronic pain to use medical marijuana. The law does not permit Germans to grow their own weed, but allows qualifying patients to purchase medical cannabis products and have the cost reimbursed by their health insurance. But thanks to the precedent set by this new court ruling, Germans who have been prescribed medical cannabis will likely have to decide whether to give up their guns or their medicine.
Residents of several U.S. states with medical marijuana programs are also being forced to make the same decision. In Delaware, local law enforcement has been trying to convince state legislators to update drivers licenses to indicate whether or not an individual is a medical cannabis user, in order to easily prohibit them from buying guns. In Hawaii and Illinois, police have demanded that medical cannabis users turn over their guns, although both states eventually backed down after receiving bad press.
Authorities who are working to prohibit medical cannabis users from owning firearms argue that cannabis users are unable to handle weapons responsibly, yet relatively few laws exist preventing known alcohol abusers from owning guns. Research has shown that gun owners who have previously been arrested for an alcohol-related crime are five times more likely to be later arrested for a firearms-related offense than those who have not been busted for drinking. German laws do restrict alcohol abusers from gun ownership, but the U.S. government does not.