For those of us who grew up in the 60s and 70s, it’s been very interesting to watch the cultural shift toward decriminalizing the use and possession of marijuana.
As of March 2016, 23 states have legalized pot in some way. Four states (Alaska, Oregon, Colorado, and Washington) plus the District of Columbia have legalized the recreational use and possession of pot. Other states have passed laws legalizing the use of medical marijuana. Florida voters may yet decide to allow medical marijuana when it appears on the ballot again this November. Some states – and even some localities like Miami Beach and Tampa here in Florida – have decriminalized the possession of a small amount of pot, making it a civil offense rather than a criminal offense.
That’s all groovy, man, but the feds aren’t on the same page. And the feds decide who can own guns.
Federal laws trump state laws when it comes to firearms and illegal drugs. Marijuana (cannabis) is still a Schedule I controlled substance – and there’s no exception for medical use or small amounts in possession. Pot is still illegal under federal law. Period.
And as any educated gun owner knows, 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(3) prohibits any person who is an “unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance (as defined in Section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. § 102)” from transporting, shipping, receiving or possessing firearms or ammunition.
Your medical marijuana card, under federal law, is proof to the feds that you’re an “unlawful user” of a controlled substance. So is that $75 ticket you receive for possessing a joint or two in Miami or Tampa.
Bam! Bye, bye guns.
If you buy a gun and lie about your medical marijuana or any illegal drug use on ATF Form 4473, you’ve committed a federal crime for lying on the 4473, plus you’re now an illegal drug user with a gun (felony). If you, as a private individual or as an FFL, sell a gun to someone you know or have reason to suspect uses medical marijuana or illegal drugs (or is addicted to prescription drugs), you’ve also committed a felony.
Here’s the letter the ATF sent to all FFLs back in 2011 when states first started legalizing medical marijuana. Pretty cut and dried, and no newer guidance has been issued.
Until the feds remove marijuana from the controlled substance list, some folks will have to choose between pot and their guns. You can’t legally have both.
If you have questions about Federal or Florida gun laws, or about how a gun trust may help keep your guns in the family if medical marijuana is needed for a short time (if it’s legalized later this year), call Cindy at the Law Offices of Cynthia M. Clark (941-444-5958).
Other articles you may find interesting: