The federal government just doubled down on its efforts to keep guns away from cannabis patients and legal adult-use marijuana consumers.
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has long had an existing ban on gun sales to anyone who uses marijuana. The ban was upheld in a controversial 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in August; a medical marijuana patient in Nevada said the ban violated the Second Amendment, but the 9th Circuit unanimously agreed that pot and other drug use “raises the risk of irrational or unpredictable behavior with which gun use should not be associated.”
Now the ATF is releasing a revised version of Form 4473 — the federal Firearms Transaction Record and considered “ATF’s most important form,” according to an ATF representative — that adds a new warning statement reminding applicants that marijuana is still considered federally illegal despite state laws allowing medical marijuana or recreational use. In other words: The ATF doesn’t want gun sellers or buyers to mistake the increasingly common state-legal cannabis for the nonexistent federally legal marijuana.
“Since more states have legalized medicinal and recreational marijuana use since 2012, ATF took the opportunity to clarify existing federal law regarding marijuana use and gun ownership,” Lisa Meiman, a public information officer at the ATF’s Denver Field Division, told The Cannabist. “Nothing changed with the revisions. We sought to clarify, for both buyers and dealers, what the law was regarding marijuana use and firearm possession.
“We were concerned that some buyers who use marijuana may read the 2012 language asking if they were an ‘unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana’ and erroneously say no because in that particular state, marijuana has been legalized. Most dealers recognize that marijuana use prohibits people from purchasing firearms under federal law, but many members of the general public may not be as familiar with the Gun Control Act.”