A new memo from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is causing confusion and anger amongst two seemingly disparate groups: Gun rights advocates and medical marijuana users.
The memo states that anyone who possesses a legal medical marijuana card, currently available in 16 states and the District of Columbia, may no longer legally purchase firearms or ammunition. The ATF’s reasoning stems from the fact that even if these states have passed their own medical marijuana laws, the federal government still considers marijuana a controlled substance:
Pro gun rights and medical marijuana advocates both expressed outraged by the letter, which they say singles out a specific group of citizens and attempts to strip them of their Second Amendment rights.
“The cannabis issue has become representative of nationwide concerns,” said Kate Cholewa, a board member of the Montana Cannabis Industry Association. “Citizens are increasingly concerned that the government, rather than expressing the will of the citizens, now sees itself as separate from the citizens and is imposing their will upon the people.”
However, there is a one major loophole that this story doesn’t mention. The current language on required paperwork for ownership of firearms asks the applicant if he or she is “addicted to marijuana.” The language has been in place for nearly 50 years and the ATF says it has “no plans” to update the wording, despite instituting the policy change. In other words, for the time being, medical marijuana patients can still purchase guns and ammo so long as they don’t label themselves a “marijuana addict” on the form and do not use their medical marijuana cards as a form of identification when attempting to purchase said firearms.