Minnesota lawmaker seeks changes to let medical cannabis patients get gun permits

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Minnesota legalized the use of medical cannabis with a physician’s prescription, but it is still listed as a Schedule 1 drug by the state and federal government, putting it on the same level as illicit narcotics such as heroin and LSD.

That has some legal ramifications for gun owners among the 43,000 people registered in the state’s medical cannabis program.

State Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, has multiple sclerosis and is registered in the state’s medical cannabis program. Hamilton told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS he cannot renew his permit to carry a gun or legally use a firearm to hunt in Minnesota because the state and the federal government still list medical cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug.

“The bill I am proposing would make medical cannabis a Schedule 2 drug — legal with a prescription but yet allowing you to renew your permit to carry and hunt with a firearm if you so choose,” Hamilton said.

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Hamilton said if Minnesota lawmakers make that change it would still contradict federal law.

“We need to do this, along with other states like Oklahoma, to get the attention of Congress in Washington, D.C.,” he said. “It needs to change at the federal level and here so people can legally get their gun permits renewed and so they can hunt with family and friends and not be in violation of the law. No one in the medical cannabis program wants to be in violation of the law.”

Patrick McClellan also is registered in the state’s medical cannabis program. He said he was told by a gun safety instructor that he could not renew his permit to carry a gun because he was registered in the cannabis program.

“How is it acceptable that a grandfather can’t go hunting with his grandkids?” McClellan said. “Or, how is it that a disabled person cannot protect themselves in their own home just because they use medical cannabis instead of opioid pain killers? It is unacceptable.”

Hamilton said he introduced a similar bill last year, but the legislative session was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. He hopes this year the bill will have committee hearings and public comment.