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Florida Firearms & Medical Marijuana: Nikki Fried [EXCLUSIVE]

Nikki Fried Gun Interview

As one of Florida’s largest networks of medical marijuana doctors, CannaMD constantly meets patients concerned about the state and federal conflict regarding medical marijuana – and what this conflict means when it comes to purchasing firearms and applying for a concealed weapons permit.

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Nicole “Nikki” Fried, oversees the state department tasked with issuing concealed weapons permits. In an exclusive interview, Fried spoke with CannaMD to clear up common misconceptions and outline everything Florida patients need to know about carrying concealed weapons and purchasing firearms as a medical marijuana cardholder.

The Basics

In Florida, purchasing a firearm and applying for a concealed weapons permit are two separate things.

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement:

Florida does not require a permit to purchase a firearm nor is there a permit that exempts any person from the background check requirement.

This means that individuals who meet the state’s requirements may purchase a firearm without a permit; however, they must pass a federal background check first. This background check is part of the individual’s Firearms Transaction Record (ATF).

Applying for a concealed weapons permit is a separate process. As Fried’s press secretary, Max Flugrath, previously explained to the Herald Tribune:

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services does not oversee or regulate gun purchases or ownership in any capacity.

Importantly, while medical marijuana is legal in Florida, cannabis is still classified as a Schedule I controlled substance on a federal level.

So what does this mean for medical marijuana patients?

Medical Marijuana & Concealed Weapons

Shortly before taking office in 2019, Fried stated:

I have both [a concealed weapons permit and medical marijuana card]. So I want to make that very clear, that I will not be taking anybody’s concealed weapons permit or not renewing them. I see no conflict between the two.

When asked if that sentiment still holds true, Fried replied:

My position is still the same. I still have both. They actually sit next to each other in my wallet.

Digging deeper into the process, Fried addresses specific application questions that have caused confusion in the past. For instance, Question 14A asks:

During the three years preceding the date of this application, have you been committed for the abuse of controlled substances, or been found guilty or convicted of a crime under the provisions of Chapter 893, Florida Statutes, or similar laws of any other state, or had multiple arrests for such offenses within the past five years with the most recent arrest occurring within the past year?

According to Fried, “committed” should be interpreted as “convicted” –  meaning that if you have never been convicted of a controlled substance-related criminal charge, individuals should answer “no” to this question (regardless of their medical marijuana patient status).

The same logic applies to Question 14B, which asks:

During the three years preceding the date of this application, have you been committed for the abuse of alcoholic beverages or other substances under the provisions of Chapter 397, or under the provisions of former Chapter 396, Florida Statutes, or convicted under Section 790.151, Florida Statutes, or been deemed a habitual offender under the provisions of Section 856.011(3), Florida Statutes, or similar laws of any other state?

To make sure no stone was left unturned, CannaMD also asked about Florida Statutes: Section 790.06 itself, which governs the right to carry concealed weapons and firearms in Florida.

As outlined by this legislation:

The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services shall issue a license if the applicant […] does not chronically and habitually use alcoholic beverages or other substances to the extent that his or her normal faculties are impaired.

When asked if this clause poses any problems for patients – and if the state defines medical marijuana patients as “habitual substance users” – Fried replied:

We don’t see any concerns. Just like if you’re taking any other medicine, if you’re taking [cannabis] for medical purposes and you have your medical marijuana card, then there’s no issue.

Translation? Having your medical marijuana card will not prevent you from getting your concealed weapons permit. Fried also confirmed that becoming a medical marijuana patient after receiving a concealed weapons permit will not lead to the permit being revoked.

However, purchasing firearms is another issue.

Medical Marijuana & Purchasing Firearms

As Fried explains:

I think the biggest confusion that most people have is obviously I do not control the ATF form and I don’t control the federal laws on this. So the federal stuff is still a problem. You’ve got an issue when it comes to federal law, but when it comes to our state’s laws regarding the concealed weapons permit, there are no issues.

Those federal issues are highlighted by Question 11E on the ATF. When purchasing firearms, Florida patients must truthfully answer:

Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?

And for those hoping for state protection for medical use, the form continues:

Warning: The use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medicinal or recreational purposes in the state where you reside. 

When asked if this means that patients could be approved for their concealed weapons permit, but unable to actually purchase a firearm and then use their permit, Fried replied:

Unfortunately, I think that is a correct statement. I have the same issue. I have both my cards, and I feel like today I cannot purchase a firearm because of it.

A trickier question faces patients who already own firearms prior to becoming a medical marijuana patient. What happens then?

According to Fried:

There’s a gray area. Some will argue – and I would certainly advise people to talk to their attorneys on this – but some will argue that it talks about not just purchasing, but when you look at some of the other laws they say ‘possession’ of firearms, and then it’s up to enforcement. So it’s a gray area that’s certainly not verified. But it’s very clear about the purchasing of the gun.

When asked if she foresees any changes in the future regarding the firearm purchasing process, Fried stated:

I have not seen any legislation or anything on the federal level that has addressed this issue, but it’s definitely a concern we’ll be digging into.

In sum, medical marijuana patients must answer “yes” to ATF Question 11E – which will likely prevent approval for purchasing firearms; however, if patients already own firearms prior to receiving their medical marijuana card, the law is less defined. Florida medical marijuana patients are encouraged to seek legal counsel on this issue.

Closing Thoughts

Summarizing both processes, Fried stresses:

The biggest thing for medical marijuana patients to understand is the differences between what’s happening on the federal level and what’s happening on the state level. You’re in good standing on the state level when it comes to your concealed weapons permit application and hold; it’s the federal issue that’s the problem.

However, Fried remains optimistic:

We’ll continue to fight. Because I’ve seen the benefits [of medical marijuana] every single day. And when our legislature tries to scale back the program or be more restrictive, we should be doing just the opposite.

When asked why she’s such a passionate advocate for medical marijuana patients, Fried responds candidly:

Where do I start! I can begin with every story that I hear, from that MS patient who started using medical marijuana and was able to decrease use of other pharmaceutical drugs to that Parkinson’s patient, who the second they start taking medical marijuana their tremors stop, to my mother who was diagnosed with cancer right after the election and was given THC to help after she had chemo treatments.

The stories that you hear every single day, and how it’s changing people’s lives – and giving them a quality of life and getting them off of opioids and off of pharmaceutical drugs – to eventual changes when it comes to legislation on the criminal justice side. Just really giving patients that option to have a more natural, healthy alternative is really powerful – how could you not want that?

As board-certified physicians who specialize in medical cannabis treatment, we couldn’t agree more!

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32 Comments

  1. Too bad they don’t treat alchahol the same way. There are more abusers of this than medical mj. It’s legal to go buy liquor anytime you want. This does more bodily harm than mj

    1. They should be talking about lawmakers in Fl. today wanting to cap THC levels. Call your legislators today, right now!,

      1. It got killed, again. I had the opportunity to speak with our Governor the first time they tried this. I told him I wanted it to pass. It would cement our stupidity on the issue. I also suggested that a similar bill capping alcohol at 10 proof would be a likewise good thing. He remarked that would never happen, I told him that only showed his and the other legislator’s ignorance was driving their decisions. I also pointed out that capping the flower at 10% potency of THC, which eliminates most strains, while still making extracts available at upwards to 80% potency was perfect. It would round out the perception of him being a blithering idiot. We’d be the laughing stock of the country. He didn’t like it too much. It died. Both times in consecutive years as a matter of fact. Hopefully they’ll stop now. For years they refused to even speak about it in State sessions. The people finally went over their head, and passed a constitutional amendment to allow medical. They have been ticked since.

    2. Casein point. No dispensary is to be within a fair distance of a number of business types; day care centers, schools, basically making it impossible to be in a desirable location. Well, down here in Orlando, the alcohol serving businesses and stores are to follow the same laws, supposedly. Edgewater High School in Orlando. Across the street from the high school is a business, ABC Liquor. In the parking lot of the school is a Sports themed Bar & Grill. Where’s the justice?

  2. It’s all bout DEA and it’s budget. They must keep weed on the schedule 1 list because part of their success is drug busts. It is busted more than any other illegal drug. They take pot busts and their budget will be adjusted. It’s a scam. When is the last time someone on pit went on a crime spree. It doesn’t happen. We weed users just want to relax, listen to some tunes and munch on something tasty. Yep big crimes here!!!!

  3. Not to mention the alcoholics that ruin other’s lives besides there own like, Driving to get more and killing people on the roads, tormenting others that know them. When they self medicate we all suffer, and they wake up not even knowing what hell they caused that night. Excuse me but not only do I remember what I was watching on Netflix but I remember what I was eating too, chocolate and pork rinds! 🙂

  4. I am not particularly interested in guns at all, but I am upset by the federal government continues to consider pot illegal. It makes me think they are corrupt since really the only people who really didn’t want pot legal was big drug lords who lost all that business once States started selling legally and if we really wanted to hurt those criminals, we would legalize it all throughout the USA for both medical and recreational–since it is, as has been mentioned, safer and is not physically addictive as alcohol is. And they make it so hard to get a card. I can’t find a doctor in my state and my state has it legalized for both medical and recreational. My doctor says, why do you need a card if you can buy it anyway. Well, I get a 20% discount if I had a card. She is afraid of getting a bad rap from her colleagues if she helps me get one. She lets me use it but she doesn’t admit that to any of her colleagues.

  5. Ms. Fried, not to worry. We have a separate clause in the state statute that allows Concealed Carry holders to purchase a couple of firearms per month, with no wait on taking purchased weapon with you. You do have to fill out the 11E for each weapon purchased, but the forms aren’t run, as they run a check on us each time we renew, as well as initial granting of the card. Plus, the way it is written, it leaves it up to some bit of interpretation. Many people do not consider themselves having a habit using prescription drugs as directed by a physician, and would answer “No” to the question honestly. The same can be said about the MMJ here. A doctor ok’d me for the MMJ (Stage 4 Colon Cancer patient; terminal), set a dosage and periodicity for me, so I don’t feel as if I have a substance abuse issue, I am following Doctor’s orders. Until they are ready to prosecute all of us, including the prescription only folks in the prosecution order, they have no solid ground to stand on. Only real chance you’d have to lose is outright misinterpretation of the law to further a political agenda. There’s ways to fight that too.

  6. so, when u answer NO but u actually have a medical marijuana card do they check the states registry?

    1. To the best of our understanding, officials may not access the state registry under that context (as your patient status is protected under HIPPA); however, if you were found to have lied on your application, the regular consequences would ensue. NOTE: We are not lawyers and cannot offer official legal advice. We recommend following up with an attorney for confirmation and further details. We hope this was helpful!

      1. Rob actually asked my main question, but to clarify, by “officials” do you mean the ATF/FBI or whatever federal entity is processing the background check?

        1. Correct, we mean the officials processing the background check. However, we’re obligated to reiterate: We are not lawyers and cannot offer official legal advice. We recommend following up with an attorney for confirmation and further details 🙂

  7. How can the person in charge of issuing concealed weapons permits be so inept at his job that he doesn’t know if it is still legal for his constituents to continue to own firearms if they are using medical marijuana? Seems part and parcel to his job, and if he doesn’t know the answer it would seem to me he could get clarification with one phone call.

  8. The purchase gun you would not be lying if you said no because your not a junkie your in medication it ask if you abuse it and you don’t right? So then one should read that more carefully a lawyer will help understand better but it’s simple wording

    1. Unfortunately, Question 11E specifically states that medical use is not protected:”Warning: The use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medicinal or recreational purposes in the state where you reside.”

  9. I’m going for my concealed weapons class the end of the month. I am a medical Marijuana patient. I’m not sure if this was asked. The forms that you fill out for the concealed weapons does it ask if you have a firearm already ?

    1. Ms. Wilbanks, the law is clear, as a “user” of marijuana you are considered a “prohibited person” pursuant to federal law. You may not lawfully possess firearms or ammunition. This means you are ineligible to obtain or maintain a Florida concealed carry license.
      I would welcome reclassification of medical marijuana by the federal government, but until that occurs this is the situation we are stuck with.

      1. We definitely understand this is a complicated issue! However, as the Commissioner who oversees Florida’s concealed carry issuance, Ms. Fried is clear that she sees no conflict and that her department “will not be taking anybody’s concealed weapons permit or not renewing them” for having a medical marijuana card or legally using medical marijuana. In fact, Commissioner Fried has both her medical marijuana card and concealed carry license – stressing that Florida medical marijuana patients can obtain a concealed carry license under her tenure.

        1. Hi Ms. Walters,

          Commissioner Fried may see no conflict, but the law on the matter is quite clear. One must ask, why is Commissioner Fried ignoring the law? She admits that medical marijuana patients cannot lawfully purchase a firearm pursuant to federal law, and the qualifications under FSS 790.06(2)( n ) clearly state that a an applicant may not be “prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm by any other provision of Florida or federal law”. Also, FSS 790.06(1)(a) states that a person holding a license becomes ineligible if disqualified per 790.06(2),, and the license must be suspended or revoked.
          Again, I am not opposed to medical marijuana. I would welcome federal reclassification, but it is disingenuous to state that it is lawful for MMJ patients to maintain a concealed carry license under the current laws.

  10. I believe that as long as you keep from being involved with law enforcement ,arrested or vehicle’s searched you might come out ok . If they do driver’s license check your permit will show up..

    1. Mr. Sauerbrey, concealed carry license information is not tied to your driver license or vehicle registration in the Florida DMV database (known as DAVID: Driver And Vehicle Information Database), so a routine driver license check does not return concealed carry license info.

  11. Looking at the article, Commissioner Fried conveniently sidesteps a couple provisions of Florida law. Specifically 790.06(2)( n ):
    “(2) The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services shall issue a license if the applicant:
    ( n ) Is not prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm by any other provision of Florida or federal law.”
    … and 790.06(10)(a):
    “(10) A license issued under this section shall be suspended or revoked pursuant to chapter 120 if the licensee:
    (a) Is found to be ineligible under the criteria set forth in subsection (2)”
    Fried, “I think the biggest confusion that most people have is obviously I do not control the ATF form and I don’t control the federal laws on this. So the federal stuff is still a problem. You’ve got an issue when it comes to federal law, but when it comes to our state’s laws regarding the concealed weapons permit, there are no issues.”
    Wrong.
    “When asked if this means that patients could be approved for their concealed weapons permit, but unable to actually purchase a firearm and then use their permit, Fried replied, ‘Unfortunately, I think that is a correct statement. I have the same issue. I have both my cards, and I feel like today I cannot purchase a firearm because of it.'”
    That means she has admitted she, and others like her, is ineligible to maintain a Florida CCW per FSS 90.06(10)(a).

  12. The federal government does not recognize “legalization” of marijuana by state/local authorities. If you *use* marijuana (medical or recreationally) you are “an unlawful user of a controlled substance” (federal law 18 USC 922 g) and you may not lawfully posses firearms or ammunition.
    But what if you aren’t *using* marijuana and merely possess a medical marijuana card (MMC) here in Florida? It gets a bit more complicated. The feds, via ATF, say if you hold a MMC that is enough to reasonably believe you are an unlawful user of a controlled substance, so you may not lawfully purchase firearms or ammunition. Florida law (790.06(2)( n )) says if you are prevented by federal law from purchasing or possessing firearms you are ineligible to receive a concealed carry license. Further, 790.06(10)(a) states if you have a concealed carry license, but become ineligible under 790.06(2), such as by obtaining a MMC, your concealed carry license shall be suspended or revoked.
    So the $64,000 question is, “Why is Commissioner Fried ignoring state law?” Great question! I can’t answer that, nor can I answer why she has been allowed to do so. Commissioner Fried obviously obtains personal and political benefit by ignoring the law. One would think this would be a clear ethics violation.
    FWIW, I am not opposed to medical marijuana legalization. I do think the feds should reclassify marijuana.
    What I am opposed to is people who lie about what the law says. I have cited the relevant laws. A concerned reader can research them for her/himself.
    Stay safe.

  13. One would think that states going against federal laws would be looked at as doing something illegal and unethical as well no? So Florida for example can say eh We know federal laws prohibit MMJ but we’ve decided that we’re going to make our own laws which contradicts federal laws an we’re going to charge all this money for MMJ cards and tax it to make money for ourselves, and as long as we tell people your okay with us but if the feds decide to come round all of you up that paid us for your fancy cards and licensing you’re on your own cus we told you the feds still in fact will not recognize a state medical license barring the Florida state seal as being a legit thing and will in fact arrest you and throw you in a federal penitentiary but we’re (state of Florida) going to continue to break federal laws issuing licenses for a schedule 1 drug (in the eyes of the feds) making money off licensing and taxing MMJ because its not a thing for the feds to go after states issuing them they just go after the people using them? Wtf this is some backwards a** ****
    I am all for MMJ what I am not for is following state laws that are still illegal in ANY jurisdiction by another entity that could come in at any time even into a dispensary and arrest everyone in it. Smh ‍♀️
    We are taught to ‘follow the law, don’t commit crimes breaking the law, don’t lie etc but isn’t that exactly what states are allowed to do while doing this? We’re are breaking the law while following the law? Lol we wonder why our world is the way it is, this is stupid honestly it just is, who comes up with ideas like federal level, state level, its not half legal people it illegal and the state is charging us to commit the breaking of FEDERAL law and we are the bad guys, we should consult our lawyers? How bout the STATE that licensed us comes and represents us in federal court and explains to the feds how we got these fancy little licenses with the state seal like we have our own printers at home and did it on our own how about the state comes in and says hey you can’t tell us we can make our own laws and then come in and arrest people for breaking laws we made legal. There should be no gray area there is right or wrong we’re supposed to do the right thing not the wrong thing but technically the state is doing the wrong thing and then convincing us all to do the wrong things as long as we don’t get caught by the feds? Lol

  14. WhY is it that the feds can override legislation in the first place? How can a separate entity over ride our law makers? They don’t make the laws our government law makers do. So how does the feds override that?

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