Sunday, May 19, 2024

Gun Ownership and Marijuana: A Sticky Situation

From 2000 to 2019 gun purchases in the USA were on a pretty unremarkable but steady rise. Until 2020 when, according to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System via, the annual numbers shot up from 13M to 21M. Americans had a feeling in 2020, it seems, that they had good reason to stock up on their personal arsenals. I wonder what that was?

Concurrently, the legalization of marijuana, whether for medicinal or recreational use, has also gotten higher and higher across the country. California legalized medicinal weed as far back as 1996, and Colorado tipped the scale in 2012 when it voted to become the first state with fully legal recreational weed. In the decade since then, per Wikipedia, 37 states have medicinal legalization, 19 of those with full recreational legalization.

So here we are, at a time when more people are legally buying guns and pot than ever before. 

However, this isn’t just something to nod at, or a good time for a “smoking gun” joke, the combination of the two can get you into hot water. 

Marijuana is not legal federally, for any reason. When you go to purchase a firearm from a federally licensed dealer, you must complete Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) Form 4473, which asks if you are an “unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana.” If so, you are excluded from the purchase.

This might come as a surprise to many, but according to the feds you are breaking at least one law if you smoke pot and own guns, no matter what your state or medicinal marijuana card says. 

In your marijuana friendly state, in theory at least, your local municipal police or state trooper might not cite you (or worse) if they catch you with the combination of a natural aroma, an extra chill demeanor, and your concealed carry. The federal agencies such as the Border Patrol, National Park Service, Homeland Security (which includes TSA), and many more, however, are a completely different story. According to those folks, you could get a serious charge.

Marijuana is a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act, and the tight spot you might find yourself in after being caught with both, or with only a marijuana charge and a history of gun ownership, or vice versa, is subjective to your circumstance and not one you want to be in.

This is by no means legal advice, so please consult an appropriate professional for specific information for you and your situation, but it is safe to say that if one was to enjoy their Second Amendment rights and their contradicting state’s rights simultaneously, they should be well informed about the risks.