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Why the ATF says that Cannabis Users Can’t Own a Firearm

Even in states where cannabis is legal either in recreational and/or medical form, you still are not permitted to own a firearm. You won’t get past the application process. The federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) has actually made changes to Form 4473, the application to own a firearm, spelling it out for cannabis users.

Changes to Form 4473

Beginning in January 2017, ATF Form 4473 will have a new revision shown on it. Form 4473 requires revisions every couple of years, so this one may be a bit late coming. The form will now include a disclosure, as the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in August 2016, a firm warning regarding the continued ban on cannabis users (medical or recreational) from possessing a firearm.

The language on the form will say: Warning: The use of possession of marijuana remains unlawful under Federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medicinal or recreational purposes in the state where you reside.

Now, if you are found to be lying on your application and say that you do not use cannabis, you will face federal charges. Lying on Form 4473 is considered to be a federal felony crime.

Still Illegal Federally

Marijuana is still illegal on a federal level, which is the reason that cannabis users can’t own firearms. Some believe that there is an increased risk of incident or irrational behavior among cannabis users.

Lisa Meiman, public information officer for the Denver Field Division of the ATF said to The Cannabist, Since more states have legalized medicinal and recreational marijuana use since 2012, ATF took the opportunity to clarify the existing federal law regarding marijuana use and gun ownership. Nothing changed with the revisions. We sought to clarify, for both buyers and dealers, what the law was regarding marijuana use and firearm possession.”

Meiman also said, “We were concerned that some buyers who use marijuana may read the 2012 language asking if they were an ‘unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana’ and erroneously said no because in that particular state, marijuana has been legalized. Most dealers recognize that marijuana use prohibits people from purchasing firearms under federal law, but many members of the general public may not be as familiar with the Gun Control Act.”

Is it Really a Worry?

Cannabis users across the United States find it unfair that they are unable to own a firearm because they use cannabis. The fact of the matter is marijuana crimes have reduced in states where it is legal in some form. It is confusing for marijuana to be legal in your home state, but illegal federally banning you from exercising your 2nd Amendment right to bear arms.

Is it really a worry for cannabis users to own a firearm? I personally don’t think so. Cannabis users, doing so within the laws set forth by their states, shouldn’t be restricted from protecting the safety of themselves and their families in the event of a life-threatening or dangerous situation.

Why Legalization Needs to Happen Now

The ATF has stood firm ground since cannabis started being legalized in states across the U.S. and that is not changing anytime soon. Until cannabis is moved off of the Schedule I list in the Controlled Substances Act or prohibition is ended federally, you won’t be able to enjoy cannabis and own a gun. You’ll have to decide which is more important to you – protecting yourself and your family or using cannabis. Prohibition needs to end, as soon as possible, to give responsible cannabis users their right to own a firearm back.

What are your thoughts on cannabis users being able to own a firearm?

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