Federal law prohibits illegal drug users from purchasing firearms; therefore, if you answer yes to question 11(e) on ATF Form 4473 (unlawful user of marijuana), your application to purchase a firearm will be denied even if the use of marijuana is legal in your state.
Currently 28 states and Washington D.C., allow the use of cannabis in one form or another; including eight states which allow recreational use. However, federal law still stands that anyone who uses cannabis, even for medical purposes, is doing so illegally and will be denied the purchase of a firearm.
“This idea that you somehow waive your Second Amendment rights if you smoke marijuana” is wrong, said Keith Stroup, founder of NORML, which advocates marijuana legalization. “In particular, if you are using marijuana as a medicine, the idea that you have to choose between your health and the Second Amendment is offensive.”
“The Gun Control Act prohibitions are governed by the Controlled Substances Act, and marijuana remains an illegal, controlled substance under federal law,” said Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr.
Carr oversees the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; which regulates licensed gun dealers as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation; which runs background checks and the Drug Enforcement Administration; which classifies drugs.
There are many conflicts of interest between state laws; which are increasingly allowing the use of cannabis and federal law; which maintains marijuana is illegal. The “firearm-cannabis” issue is by far the strangest conflict. As per ATF guidance distributed to gun dealers, if a dealer has reason to believe the applicant uses cannabis, it is the responsibility of the dealer to stop the sale of ammunition or a gun.
“There are no exceptions in federal law for marijuana purportedly used for medicinal purposes, even if such use is sanctioned by State law,” the guidance says.
Recently the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that banning gun sales to medical cannabis users does not violate their Second Amendment rights. The court stated that cannabis is a Schedule 1 controlled substance under federal law; therefore, having “no currently accepted medical use in treatment.” Last August the DEA reaffirmed that status.
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