Welcome back to another edition of our newsletter! This week we will be discussing some of the most common questions we receive as healthcare professionals in the cannabis industry.

Can I Own a Firearm and a Medical Marijuana Card in CT?

Legislation surrounding gun possession in Connecticut is amongst the most restrictive in the country. The state requires training, a comprehensive background check, and permitting requirements for the purchase of firearms and ammunition. A CT pistol permit allows CT residents to own and possess a firearm with a ban on certain firearms defined as “assault weapons” and magazines holding more than 10 rounds.

How does the picture change with a medical marijuana card? Unfortunately, possession of a medical card does prohibit individuals from purchasing firearms. Cannabis is federally illegal despite being viewed as a legal controlled substance in CT. Medical Cardholders are essentially banned from possessing a gun permit on the stance that the country is attempting to further the government’s interest in preventing gun violence. In the eyes of the federal law, marijuana users are “more likely to be involved in violent crimes” as they have access to cannabis, a recognized illegal substance.

In theory, an individual is able to hold a registry card but is unable to purchase any weapons. This gap in the state vs federal regulations is where we see CT medical card holders still in possession of a firearm. If an individual is a legal gun permit holder, this does not disqualify them from obtaining a medical marijuana card. In these cases where the gun permit was obtained first, individuals can still own firearms already in their lawful possession.

The issue arises when gun owners renew their gun permits. If a medical card was issued after the initial approval, this is a likely reason to have a gun permit revoked/suspended. What further complicates this is the fact that gun permits are renewed every 5 years while medical cards are reissued annually. The difference in license renewal periods and the ability to obtain a medical marijuana card without a background check is where the state sees lawful possession of both a firearm AND a medical card.

So what’s the bottom line? You essentially have to choose one or the other. Having a Connecticut medical marijuana card effectively prohibits you from obtaining a Connecticut pistol permit because of marijuana’s status as a schedule one drug. Although there are cases where some may fall through the “legal gap” as outlined above, this isn’t something we can recommend to patients and only temporarily allows patients to be in possession of both.

How Long Does Cannabis Stay in your System?

Marijuana can be detected in bodily fluids anywhere from 1 to 30 days. This varies person to person and is highly dependent on the strength and frequency of use. As expected, the higher doses and more frequent consumption is where we see longer detection times. Someone who smokes a pre-roll on occasion will not have the same detection levels as someone smoking from a vape cartridge on a daily basis.

How about a urine test? This is where most of the concern stems from as this is often a consideration for employment. Again, this will vary depending mainly on the frequency of use:

Single use: 1-3 days

Moderate use (3 to 4 times a week): 5 to 7 days

Chronic users (daily): 10 to 15 days

Chronic heavy users (multiple uses throughout the day): up to 30 days

Other factors such as genetics, sex, and BMI can play a role as well. Cannabis metabolites are fat-soluble and will remain in someone’s system longer if they are larger or have more fat deposits. Women have more fatty deposits than men and will likely have longer detection times.

Nonetheless, cannabis will eventually clear and become undetectable from one’s system. There is no fool-proof strategy to masking marijuana detection in blood or urine despite the infinite detox remedies that can be found online. The only way to produce a “negative” result is to give your body ample time to break down any cannabis that may be in your system.

Should I disclose if I have a medical marijuana card with my employer?

The unfortunate short answer is, it depends on where you work. Patients are covered under the Medical Cannabis Anti-Discrimination Employee Protection Act in the state of Connecticut. The CT statute states,

“No employer may refuse to hire a person or may discharge, penalize or threaten an employee solely on the basis of such person’s or employee’s status as a qualifying patient or primary caregiver under sections 21a-408 to 21a-408n, inclusive. Nothing in this subdivision shall restrict an employer’s ability to prohibit the use of intoxicating substances during work hours or restrict an employer’s ability to discipline an employee for being under the influence of intoxicating substances during work hours.”

However, there are 9 fields exempt from this legislation. These include:

  • Mining
  • Utilities
  • Construction
  • Manufacturing
  • Transportation
  • Education
  • Healthcare and social services
  • Justice, public order, and safety
  • National security and international affairs

If the employer does not fall underneath these exempt categories, they must follow the rules set forward by the act to avoid violating employee rights. A medical patient is still eligible for opportunities not defined by these exempted fields and should feel comfortable disclosing their medical marijuana background with their employer. The law prohibits an employer from discharging or taking adverse action against an employee solely based on the individual’s use of medical cannabis outside of work.

However, this law does not change the common sense rule that applies to alcohol and drug use in the workplace. This does not mean employees can show up to work high and use marijuana in a way that interferes with daily work activities. Policies can still be made by an institution/organization regarding consumption of cannabis in direct relationship to work performance.

Thank you for tuning into another edition of our monthly newsletter! Please feel free to reach out with any further questions or concerns.

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