A Fresh Look At Marijuana and Gun Ownership

UPDATE on February 6, 2023 : Federal Judge—Law Barring Marijuana Users From Owning Firearm is Unconstitutional

Last month I covered a news story in which a child unintentionally shot and killed himself while he was in the car with his mother and sibling. Since then, I learned of some additional information that, at the time, was unknown. And as you may have guessed, it has to do with marijuana and guns.

medical marijuana guns

4-Year-Old Accidentally Kills Himself:

You can read the entire post about the tragic death of a 4-year-old child.

Information was that the father Carlos Peres drove to the store, accompanied by his wife Ashlynne and their two children. Carlos parked the vehicle, exited, and went inside the store. Unfortunately, he left his loaded handgun inside the car.

We still don't know where the gun was, just that he left it inside the vehicle. Ashlynne and the children waited inside the car. At some point, unbeknownst to Ashlynne, the 4-year-old accessed the gun and discharged it. He shot himself and died from the injury.

Police arrested both parents.

marijuana gun possession

Carlos and Ashlynne Perez booking photos

I wrote the original post to highlight the importance of safe storage procedures and our responsibilities as gun owners.

Updated Information:

My co-worker J.P. said he recognized the location of the incident from the photo I included in the post. He previously worked for an armored car service that operated in the area where the tragedy took place.

J.P. said it looked like the incident occurred in the parking lot of a marijuana dispensary.

I did some digging. I found a couple of news reports that confirmed the family trip was to the pot shop, and Carlos was inside the dispensary when his son killed himself.

gun possession marijuana

We shouldn't jump to the conclusion that either parent was high at the time. However, we should not dismiss this fact as irrelevant. Smoking pot, just like using painkillers or drinking alcohol, has both immediate, as well as short and long-term effects on our behavior and brain chemistry.

Physiological Effects:

According to the National Institute on Health, marijuana has the following short-term effects: altered senses (for example, seeing brighter colors), altered sense of time, changes in mood, impaired body movement, difficulty with thinking and problem-solving, impaired memory, hallucinations (when taken in high doses), delusions (when taken in high doses), and psychosis (risk is highest with regular use of high potency marijuana).

And chronic marijuana use is tied to temporary hallucinations, temporary paranoia, worsening symptoms in patients with schizophrenia—a severe mental disorder with symptoms such as hallucinations, paranoia, and disorganized thinking. NIH Website Source

One Substance over Another:

As responsible gun owners, we should consider what we do with anything that can affect our judgment. Attempting to justify one by saying something else is worse is unwise.

For example, many people say marijuana isn't as harmful as alcohol. When they smoke weed, they just feel calm and lazy, but drunks want to fight. This is clearly a generalization that is not true for everyone. Instead, it is just a way to justify something bad by saying something else is worse.

Consider this, in 15 states; there is no codified prohibition for alcohol consumption and firearm possession. This means you can consume alcohol and possess a firearm. However, most of us recognize this as reckless behavior that could result in severe injury or death. Therefore, most (not all) people will refrain from handling their guns while drinking alcohol.

But what about the next day? Ever have a hangover? Has your alcohol consumption the night before led to you doing something dumb in the morning? It makes sense that if we can't think clearly, we are at a greater risk of making a mistake. What if that mistake was to forget to secure your gun safe when you took your EDC out. What if it is just sloppy handling of the handgun as you get ready to leave the house? These errors could have catastrophic and irreversible consequences.

But what about weed?

alcohol guns

Ability to Problem Solve and Make Decisions:

Some argue that as long as someone isn't smoking weed and carrying a gun simultaneously, it shouldn't matter? I understand that argument but consider this. At what point after smoking marijuana does your discernment come back?

You may have a hangover, as mentioned above, but you also may not recognize that your decision-making skills still are impaired at the moment.

If marijuana affects our problem-solving ability and can cause an altered state of time, etc., we may think we are clear-minded but actually not.

This is evident drunks get in a vehicle and think they are okay to drive but are obviously not. Or perhaps this contributed to Carlos carelessly leaving his loaded gun in the vehicle where his kids could get it.

A clear and focused brain is one of our greatest tools for survival.

For this reason, I choose not to consume anything that would affect my ability to be of sober mind. I always want my mind sharp so I may make quick, rational decisions. Not just in the short term, but in the long term as well.

Strategies For Gun Owners:

Not everyone will agree with me and that is fine. I mention my choice and reason only as one method.

If you need to use painkillers or marijuana as a medical treatment, consider giving a sober person authority to evaluate your mental state. If we take medication appropriately, we should not lose touch with reality.

However, sometimes things like lack of sleep, other drugs interactions, or some combination of alcohol, pills, or medication can cause unexpected effects.

For example, I have had several surgeries and took painkillers for a few days after. I locked up my firearms at these times, and I didn't carry my gun until I had been off them for several days straight. I also asked my wife, who knows my baseline, for feedback on my mental state.

If you need to take medication for long-term pain management, you may consider using prescription medication that does not cause psychoactive side effects. Products like CBD oil have shown to be effective for specific conditions and does not cause an impaired mental state.

You should also refrain from carrying your firearm until you have been taking the medication for some time and have an understanding of how it affects you at the prescribed dosage.


I am not condoning the government taking away someone's Second Amendment right if they smoke marijuana, drink a beer or take a painkiller.

At the same time, we may think that what we choose to do in our own home doesn't affect anyone else. That isn't always the case. A drunk driver who ends up killing a family likely didn't start the night off thinking their decision to drink alcohol would lead to them killing someone. Our actions always have an impact on others.

When we are gun owners, we should consider that we operate with a lower margin for error. We need to be more aware of our actions. A slip of judgment with the firearm may have permanent results for us, children, or others.

It's my opinion that it doesn't matter if a law prohibiting alcohol, marijuana, etc., use and gun possession exists or not. There are plenty of unprofitable things that no law prohibits.

My opinion is that it's just not wise to give up control over the tool that is most critical to self-preservation, our brain.

Make wise, thoughtful choices on what you choose to do while armed as well as how you store your firearms. Here is a guide to help choose an appropriate storage solution for your individual needs.

If you are interested in sharing firearm safety with others or want to dive deeper into being safe with firearms, consider this free Gun Safety Course.

About Matthew Maruster

I follow my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who is the eternal co-equal Son of God. I currently live in Columbus, Ohio with my wife and daughter. I served in the Marine Corps Infantry. I was a Staff Sergeant and served as a Platoon Sergeant during combat in Iraq. After I was a police officer at a municipal agency in San Diego County. I have a Bachelors's Degree in Criminal Justice from National University. I produce the Concealed Carry Podcast and coordinate the Concealed Carry Instructor Network, and manage MJ Maruster Defense.


  1. Dave on July 30, 2021 at 5:59 pm

    My dear departed father used to have a saying that always stuck with me since childhood. “Alcohol and gunpowder don’t mix and besides it tastes terrible”.

    It our state of Arizona if you have a CCW you are allowed to carry into establishments that serve alcohol but no drinking. This is one of the benefits above Constitutional carry which we are. There are others as well but this one applies to this article.

    I take the responsibility of being armed very seriously and so should any one. It’s not something to be taken lightly or abused.

    • Eric Kauffman on July 31, 2021 at 7:00 am

      Well said Dave! It is wise to not carry while alcohol (or any mind altering chemical) is in your system. I am calculated enough to plan ahead and carry my primitive e.d.c. (knife) while in such situations.
      Moreover, I think it is wise not to judge these grieving parents until all the facts are considered. Were they high? Was the firearm legally possessed? Was the firearm locked up? It will all come out in the wash. Now speaking of wash, it’s time for me to lock my firearm up. Thanks for your service Matthew.

  2. Gary Williams on August 4, 2021 at 12:02 pm

    You spend too much time listening to the NIH website. Most of what they say about pot is just propaganda and remember these are the same people who tell you to wear a mask.

  3. Frank Black on August 4, 2021 at 9:54 pm

    People do not regularly lose their faculty of reason or their ability to discern correct from incorrect, right and wrong or logic or irrationality just because they are the under the influence of cannabis. This psychosis argument is also based on all of one research paper that looked at a particular set of circumstances and didn’t account for other variables and comorbidities.

    It has also been made very obvious through various research and studies that are published in Portugal and Spain going back ten years that a lack of substantial CBD compounds with commensurate high THC may contribute to psychiatric problems but in general there is no evidence of a generalized psychiatric risk with using cannabis. This is a bunch of nonsense.

    However in the spirit of that argument there is an argument to be made that high THC bred cannabis is naturally low in CBD content, as described and that we may have actually bred a hybrid and high-octane form of this plant that is not doing people any favors. A lot of this depends on epigenetic, biological damage and other co-factor. It isn’t a one size fits all condition or any kind if idiotic “settled science”.

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