With differing state and federal laws, confusion surrounds the legality of possessing both a gun and a medical card for marijuana.
According to Alcohol Firearms and Tobacco form 4473, which determines whether a person can get a gun, marijuana remains unlawful by federal law. Customers in a gun store have to fill out an ATF form under oath and it specifically asks about marijuana use, said Chris McHugh, an attorney and CEO of Vertical, a medical marijuana dispensary company.
“So if you are being honest about that form, you would not get that gun,” he said. “They (the gun store) won’t sell it to you. They can’t under federal law. If you lie on that form, then it’s a crime, lying under oath. So you are in a little bit of a pickle.”
Capt. Shawn Collie with the Buchanan County Drug Strike Force said there is still a lot of confusion on this issue for law enforcement. He said officers refer circumstances involving guns and medical marijuana to legal counsel to see what laws are in place. He said most appellate courts have upheld that using marijuana for any reason prohibits having a firearm.
“And cases like this with medical marijuana and firearms is we have the conflict of state law and federal law and the confusion there,” Collie said.
He explained that under federal law, marijuana is still a drug even though it may be legal in some states, and firearm regulation is controlled by the federal government. Collie said there needs to be a push from citizens to have laws “cleaned up” by the state or federal legislators.
“We have enough laws on the books,” Collie said. “We’re not asking for new laws to be made or created. But unfortunately, we have laws that are outdated and we have laws that need to be updated and brought up to where we are in time now.”
Collie said law enforcement personnel are caught in the middle and trying to determine what legal advice they are getting. When they enforce laws, he said they do so based on what is in place and not their personal opinion.
“(For this situation), we’re seeing the … far left, the far right, each side has all their opinions and then you have us in the middle,” he said.