Let me state right up front: I’m not a lawyer, and I’m not offering legal advice. What I have seen though, is that in other states where marijuana use for medical purposes has been legalized, the Federal government hasn’t agreed.
As I write this, there’s a new law going through the state legislature in Connecticut – Raised Bill No. 5389 AN ACT CONCERNING THE PALLIATIVE USE OF MARIJUANA. I make no judgement about the merits of the law — I have no horse in the race. Some folks think it’s a great bill that fixes some of the problems of laws enacted elsewhere. I read through it though, and there are no restrictions that apply directly to firearm ownership.
While on the surface, that would make it appear “okay,” there are a couple of things to keep in mind. While a number of states have enacted laws to effectively legalize some drug use, the Federal Government has successfully raided, shut down, and prosecuted many establishments operating legally within state laws.
The big thing to worry about is one of the questions you’re asked on a BATF Form 4473:
e. Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any othe r controlled substance?
The Federal Government doesn’t recognize the state laws, therefore, in my completely amateur opinion, this will put you in legal hot water.
Last September, the BATF sent a letter to all licensed firearms dealers, telling them that it is illegal to sell firearms or ammunition to someone who possesses a medical marijuana card. From the article:
[...] According to a new memo from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, it is illegal for him or any registered medical-marijuana patient to own or possess firearms or ammunition.
The letter written last week by ATF Assistant Director Arthur Herbert to all federal firearms licensees gave them guidance on what to do if a firearms customer reveals that he or she is a medical-marijuana patient.
And here’s another case from Oregon. Cynthia Willis was denied a renewal on her concealed carry permit. She took them to court, and won, but the local Sheriff took it all the way to the Oregon Supreme Court and lost. I think this provides some hope that the issue can be settled, but keep in mind: do you want to be a test case?
The NFA Gun Trust Lawyer Blog provides another caution:
If you have a Gun Trust, you should also be cautious about having a co-trustee that uses medical marijuana as it could create liability for you and the other people involved with your trust.
Go read the article — he has a lot more to say on the subject.
I don’t particularly care if folks use marijuana, either for a medical condition, or because it’s a Saturday night. It makes no difference to me — the enforcement of these laws have done infinitely more harm than good, in my opinion. If this law is enacted in Connecticut however, I would strongly advise any gun owners to seek competent legal advice before proceeding.
I truly sympathize with the people who need to make the difficult choice between basic self defense and protecting their health. Over the next few years, I suspect that this issue will be sorted out, as many other states are moving towards a more relaxed attitude to marijuana use. Until that happens, there are going to be many legal battles to be fought.