With differing state and federal laws, confusion surrounds the legality of owning both a firearm and a medical marijuana card.
According to Alcohol Firearms and Tobacco Form 4473, which determines whether a person can obtain a firearm, marijuana remains illegal under federal law. Customers at a gun store must fill out an ATF form under oath and it specifically asks about marijuana use, said Chris McHugh, attorney and CEO of Vertical, a medical marijuana dispensary.
“So if you’re honest about this form, you won’t get this gun,” he said. “They (the gun shop) won’t sell it to you. They cannot under federal law. If you lie on this form, then it’s a crime, lying under oath. So you’re in a bit of a pickle.
Capt. Shawn Collie of 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 firearms and medical marijuana to an attorney to see what laws were in place. He said most appellate courts have upheld that using marijuana for any reason is prohibited from having a firearm.
“And cases like this with medical marijuana and firearms is that we have the conflict between 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 gun regulations are controlled by the federal government. Collie said citizens need to push for laws to be “cleaned up” by state or federal lawmakers.
“We have enough laws on the books,” Collie said. “We are 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 But unfortunately we have laws that are outdated and we have laws that need to be updated and brought to where we are in time now.
Collie said law enforcement was caught in the middle trying to figure out what legal advice they were getting. When they enforce the laws, he said they do so based on what is in place and not personal opinion.
“(For this situation) we see the far left, the far right, each side has all their opinions and then you have us in the middle,” he said.