The High Cost of Recreational and Medical Marijuana to Firearms Owners
The use or possession of marijuana is illegal under Federal law. However, 29 states and the District of Columbia currently have laws broadly legalizing marijuana in some form. In addition, seven states, Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia have adopted the most expansive laws legalizing marijuana for recreational use.
Suppose that you are a recreational or medical user of marijuana. How does this affect your right to possess and receive firearms under Federal law?
Under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g), it is unlawful for any person who is an unlawful user of or addicted to marijuana to possess or receive any firearm or ammunition. See 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). It also illegal to sell or provide firearms or ammunition to any person knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that the person is an unlawful user of or addicted to marijuana. See 18 U.S.C. § 922(d).
When you purchase a firearm from a licensed firearms dealer, you are required to complete an ATF Form 4473. Question 11(e) asks whether you are an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana. In addition, the ATF form states in bold:
Warning: The use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under Federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medical or recreational purposes in the state where you reside.
In addition, the ATF form requires you to certify that your answer to the question is correct and that you understand that, if you answer “yes” to Question 11(e), you are prohibited from purchasing or receiving a firearm.
In conclusion, if you are a recreational or medical user of marijuana, you have forfeited your right to possess or receive firearms under Federal law.