A handgun sits next to a marijuana leaf (Adobestock).

According to a release by The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), anyone who is an unlawful user of a controlled substance is banned shipping, transporting, receiving, or possessing firearms or ammunition. This federal law dates back to the Federal Gun Control Act of 1968 and the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. The ATF’s clarification comes after Minnesota legalized recreational marijuana and the ATF wants to make it clear that it is still illegal for marijuana users to own guns. According to CBS News:

Until marijuana is legalized federally, firearms owners and possessors should be mindful that it remains federally illegal to mix marijuana with firearms and ammunition,” said ATF’s Acting Special Agent in Charge Jeff Reed, of the St. Paul Field Division. “As regulators of the firearms industry and enforcers of firearms laws, we felt it was important to remind Minnesotans of this distinction as the marijuana laws adjust here in the State of Minnesota.”

Anyone looking to purchase firearms must confirm if they are an unlawful user of cannabis on ATF Form 4473 during a firearm transaction.

In 2011, ATF issued an open letter to Federal Firearms Licensees to provide guidance as states began easing restrictions on cannabis.

“The 2011 guidance reminds Federal Firearms Licensees that it is unlawful to transfer a firearm to any person knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that the person is an unlawful user of a controlled substance,” the ATF said in a release.

The ATF also stated that if gun sellers are aware that a buyer is a marijuana user than they heave a reasonable cause to refuse selling to that individual. Presence of a card that would allow someone to buy marijuana could also be a tell to gun shops.


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