CCW Weekend: Mixing Prescription Drugs And Concealed Carry
By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters
A fact of life in modern America is that you are likely going to be on some sort of medication regimen. If not today, sometime down the road, to manage some condition of some sort. According to the CDC, a projected 48.9 percent of the population takes at least one prescription medication per day, based on data submitted to the CDC by various sources. According to a 2013 survey by the Mayo Clinic, it’s closer to 70 percent.
What a drag it is getting old, as they say.
The CDC reports that the three most common types of prescription medications that people are ordered to take by their physicians are analgesics (pain relief; commonly opioids) antihyperlipidemic agents (drugs that lower LDL cholesterol; statins and so on) and antidepressants.
If you take one of these drugs, or some other prescription medication, what does this mean as far as concealed carry is concerned? Can you still get a license or permit? Carry with a concealed carry holster?
Well…that becomes a bit of a sticky wicket. Mostly yes, but in some cases no. It depends on your specific situation, as well as what state you live in and what prescription medication your doctor has placed you on.
All states ask whether you use illegal drugs or use legal substances illegally, or if you are addicted to any substances. This prohibits a person from obtaining a concealed carry license and certainly from purchasing or possessing a firearm.
Granted, the term “addicted” can invite semantic exploration, but that is for another time.
As to getting the license and carrying, some states ask whether the applicant is taking any prescription medications which might alter mood or impair judgement on the concealed carry permit application.
Any psychoactive drugs would, therefore, qualify as (likely) would narcotic painkillers. Other popular medications such as immunosuppressants like adalimumab (aka Humira) or infliximab (aka Remicade) fluticasone-based corticosteroids for pulmonary diseases such as Advair or Seretide, statins for heart disease (such as atvorastatins such as Lipitor) and so on would not likely disqualify you.
Drugs for neurophysiological disorders don’t necessarily disqualify a person as being “adjudicated mentally defective.” That would only apply if said medication was mandated by court order and/or if a person had been committed to a psychiatric facility.
Review your state’s laws closely, and consult with an attorney for more detailed information. Bear in mind that this isn’t legal advice, after all, just a discussion.
Let’s get the green monster out of the way and not the one at Fenway Park. Instead, medical marijuana. This is a controversial topic, as the drug laws of many states have begun shifting in recent years regarding that particular substance.
In this instance, federal law trumps state law. Currently, the FDA classifies marijuana and CBD products (cannabidiol is a non-psychoactive compound found in marijuana plants indicated by a number of peer-reviewed studies to have possible medicinal benefits; the psychoactive component in marijuana, however, is tetrahydrocannabinol or THC) obtained from marijuana or hemp plants (a related strain of the plant with only trace levels of THC) as a Schedule 1 drug.
It is therefore totally illegal, with no redeemable medical benefits even if taken under a doctor’s supervision, even if state law decriminalizes it or allows purchase, possession and use with a prescription.
Additionally, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision Wilson v. Lynch holds that since marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug, even persons with a prescription for medical marijuana cannot purchase or possess firearms, let alone carry. This is also the position of the ATF and the Department of Justice.
As to carrying while on prescription medications, state law is often down to the interpretation of the Attorney General’s office and court precedent. Some states forbid carrying if on prescription pain medication and others don’t necessarily do so.
You may wish to discuss mental capacity and your prescriptions with your doctor in order to get a picture for how likely it is to affect yours. Again, you should also seek guidance from your specific state’s laws to get more information.
Additionally, if you are ingesting a prescription medication that can affect mood, judgement or anything at all, it is likely to be investigated by a prosecutor in a criminal trial or by a plaintiff’s counsel if sued in civil court after a defensive gun use. You will likely be called upon to establish that you weren’t affected by its use, which may be difficult in some instances.
So, if you’re going to carry and are on a prescription drug regimen, bear in mind which prescription drugs you are taking. Consult with your physician and – if necessary – get further guidance from your state Attorney General’s office.
Sam Hoober is Contributing Editor for AlienGearHolsters.com, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit aliengearholsters.com.