Q&A of the Day – Florida’s New Permitless Carry Policy & Medical Marijuana 

Q&A of the Day – Florida’s New Permitless Carry Policy & Medical Marijuana 

Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods.   

Email: brianmudd@iheartmedia.com  

Social: @brianmuddradio    

iHeartRadio: Use the Talkback feature – the microphone button on our station’s page in the iHeart app.    

Today’s Entry: Today's note was submitted via Talkback asking about whether Florida’s new permitless carry legislation, ending the need for a CCW permit in Florida, will allows those with medical marijuana cards to carry.  

Bottom Line: I appreciate the question(s), because there’s an awful lot of confusion about what Florida’s new legislation will achieve in addition to the implications of controlled substances including medical marijuana. Let’s start with the pending new policy. Last week the Florida legislature passed the Pubic Safety bill. Yesterday Governor DeSantis signed it into law. The new policy will be in place as of July 1st. And as for the details of the new policy... Here’s the official summary of the legislation: 

Authorizes person to carry concealed weapon or firearm if he or she is licensed to do so or meets specified requirements; requires person who is carrying concealed weapon or firearm without license to carry identification & display upon demand by law enforcement; prohibits person who is carrying concealed weapon or firearm without license from carrying such weapon or firearm in specified locations; authorizes nonresident to carry concealed weapon or firearm in this state if he or she meets same requirements as resident; requires Office of Safe Schools to develop behavioral threat management operational process. 

Without getting into the weeds of what’s in the legislation – here are a few important high points. Starting with what it isn’t. Open carry, which was mentioned, is not in this bill. That's important because as of July 1st, if someone is openly displaying a firearm who isn’t a licensed professional who’s authorized to do so, that’ll still be against the law. Effectively what this soon-to-be new law will do is allow lawful gun owners in Florida to conceal carry without needing a permit to do so. Little else changes with this policy. And that takes us to the topic of medical marijuana and firearms in Florida. This is an issue which has been easily confused since the onset of state-sanctioned medical marijuana.  

To be clear, there isn’t anything under Florida’s existing law preventing medical marijuana card holders from having a concealed carry permit. Likewise, there’s nothing under Florida’s soon-to-be permitless carry legislation which would prevent one from possessing a firearm. Here’s how the law reads on this issue:  

  • Does not chronically and habitually use alcoholic beverages or other substances to the extent that his or her normal faculties are impaired. It shall be presumed that an applicant chronically and habitually uses alcoholic beverages or other substances to the extent that his or her normal faculties are impaired if the applicant has been convicted. 

So essentially, unless you’ve been arrested and convicted for possession of illegal substances and/or impairment – you're able to carry under Florida law. Notably, Florida’s former Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who as Ag Commissioner was responsible for the issuance of CCW permits, is both a medical marijuana card and CCW permitted holder. Where the confusion, and potential issues come into play, is with federal law.   

Marijuana is a schedule 1 drug according to the federal government. That means it may not be legally possessed or used in any form. Given the Supremacy Clause in the Constitution, Florida’s policy is irrelevant under federal law. The ATF is the federal regulator of related policy and has specifically addressed this issue. The official guidance by the ATF is as follows

Marijuana is listed in the Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule I controlled substance, and there are no exceptions in Federal law for marijuana purportedly used for medicinal purposes, even if such use is sanctioned by State law. Therefore, any person who uses or is addicted to marijuana, regardless of whether his or her State has passed legislation authorizing 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

So, there’s the rub. And it’s the risk that every Floridian like Nikki Fried runs. Florida’s not your issue but if you’re ever in the crosshairs of the feds – you could have significant issues on your hands. It’s all part of the tangled web that’s woven when a state acts in a manner which contradicts federal law.  

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