Gun Ownership for MMJ Patients in South Dakota?

Can You Own a Gun with a Medical Card in South Dakota?

Yes. South Dakota law does not prevent a person from possessing a gun because of their status as a medical marijuana cardholder. Per Section 34-20G-2 of the state's Codified Laws, a person’s status as a medical cannabis cardholder does not subject them to denial of any right or privilege. Presumably, this includes their Second Amendment rights. Anyone aged 18 or older in South Dakota who can legally own a gun is permitted to conceal carry.

Can South Dakota Medical Cannabis Patients Legally Carry Firearms Without Permits?

Yes. South Dakota residents, including medical marijuana users, can own or carry guns concealed without permits. Although it is a Permitless Carry State, medical cannabis cardholders who often travel to other states with their firearms are still required to obtain gun licenses from their county sheriffs.

Does South Dakota Require Background Checks for MMJ Patients Seeking Gun Licenses?

No, because medical cannabis patients do not require firearm licenses to carry guns in South Dakota. However, for reciprocity purposes, prospective gun permit holders in the state must subject themselves to a National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) check.

Can You Get a South Dakota Medical Marijuana Card After Getting a Gun License?

Yes. No state law bans a person from obtaining a South Dakota medical marijuana card after securing a gun license. A medical marijuana card will not render your firearm license invalid in South Dakota. Also, the status of a person as a medical marijuana cardholder in South Dakota does not prevent their spouse from obtaining a firearm license or carrying a gun.

Legal History of Gun Ownership for MMJ Patients in South Dakota

There are not many, if any, cases of South Dakotans being charged with illegal gun possession or firearm ownership due to their status as medical marijuana cardholders. The state seems to disregard the federal law prohibiting medical cannabis patients from carrying firearms and is not enforcing it. However, this is not without its risks. In 2022, the South Dakota Legislature passed House Bill 1314, which prohibits carrying a loaded firearm while in possession of cannabis or marijuana products. Anyone who is caught doing so is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

What Federal Law Says About the Firearm Rights of Medical Marijuana Users

The stance of federal law on medical marijuana and firearm ownership in the United States is clear. Marijuana is considered a controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act, and under federal law, it is illegal for a user of any controlled substance to carry any firearm. The Gun Control Act of 1968 (18 U.S.C Section 922(g)) makes it a felony for individuals who unlawfully use controlled substances, including medical cannabis, to possess guns.

Anyone buying a gun from a licensed firearms dealer must fill out a Firearms Transaction Record Form (ATF Form 4473) with accurate information. Making any false statement in connection with firearm transactions is a felony. For example, lying about cannabis use to a firearms dealer when completing Form 4473 is punishable by up to a $250,000 fine and/or up to 10 years imprisonment in federal prison.

An open letter to licensed firearm dealers in 2011 by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Explosives (ATF) upholds the federal stance on gun ownership by medical marijuana cardholders. The letter reiterated 18 USC Section 922(d)(3), which makes it illegal to sell ammunition or firearms to unlawful users of controlled substances, medical cannabis inclusive.

In 2017, the constitutionality of the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA), particularly considering the Second Amendment rights, was challenged in the Wilson v. Lynch case in a federal district court. After hearing the suit, the district court determined that Wilson's Second Amendment rights were not violated by the GCA and the firearm dealer's refusal to sell a gun to her. The firearms dealer had cited the 2011 open letter by the ATF as the basis for not dealing. Rowan Wilson was a medical marijuana patient in Nevada who attempted to purchase a gun. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals also affirmed the judgment of the lower court after an appeal by Rowan.

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