In the latest move to target people’s 2nd amendment rights to carry and own firearms, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) announced this week that despite state laws that have legalized cannabis throughout much of the country, they consider it unlawful for anyone who smokes or possesses pot to own firearms.
According to a memo from the St. Paul ATF office, they will disregard state laws and consider individuals who use marijuana, regardless of their state’s legalization, as “unlawful users” of a controlled substance at the federal level. Consequently, they say these people are prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition, shipping or transporting them, or even receiving them.
Even though the recreational use of marijuana is being legalized in states throughout the U.S., federal law maintains its classification as a Schedule I substance. This means that people caught using marijuana, even in states where it’s legal, could face criminal charges under federal law. The St. Paul ATF emphasized this distinction in a recent tweet.
Jeff Reed, ATF’s acting special agent in charge of the St. Paul field division, issued a warning stating, “Until marijuana is legalized federally, firearms owners and possessors should be mindful that it remains federally illegal to mix marijuana with firearms and ammunition.”
This clarification by the ATF has far-reaching consequences, potentially impacting thousands of people residing in the 23 states where recreational cannabis is legal, along with those in states that permit its medical use. Rob Doar, vice president of the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus, expressed concern about the underlying implications of the ATF’s tweet.
“The fact that they sent out the notice, I think, is cause for some raised eyebrows,” Doar told CBS News, noting that the agency could have easily kept quiet and assured citizens that “we’re not going to be enforcing it” even if technically owning a gun is illegal if you use weed.
In this week’s memo, the ATF reminded all 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, and pointed them to a 2011 Obama administration policy that concluded marijuana users would be prohibited from owing and buying firearms.
In 2016, we warned that they were getting ready to use Marijuana legalization as a trojan horse to go after gun rights after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that those with a medical marijuana card could not legally buy a gun.
Last year the Biden administration actively sought the dismissal of a lawsuit challenging the ban on marijuana users possessing firearms, arguing that such restrictions align with existing firearm regulations. The Department of Justice (DOJ) contended that these prohibitions were necessary due to the potential impairment caused by marijuana use, which they claim could jeopardize someone’s ability to handle firearms.
This latest attack on liberty by the ATF reflects an unjust interpretation of federal law that disregards the evolving landscape of state marijuana legislation. It raises concerns among constitutional conservatives and state rights activists who believe in protecting individual rights, including the right to bear arms, even for those who choose to use marijuana under state laws.