Note: this going out to AZMEX list as most are gunnies.
ATF: Illegal to sell guns to med marijuana users By MATT VOLZ
(September 28th, 2011 @ 3:27pm) Associated Press
HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Firearms dealers in states that allow medical
marijuana can't sell guns or ammunition to registered users of the
drug, a policy that marijuana and gun-rights groups say denies Second
Amendment rights to individuals who are following state law.
Federal law already makes it illegal for someone to possess a gun if
he or she is "an unlawful user of, or addicted to" marijuana or other
controlled substances. A Sept. 21 letter from the Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, issued in response to numerous
inquiries from gun dealers, clarifies that medical marijuana patients
are included in that definition.
"There are no exceptions in federal law for marijuana purportedly
used for medicinal purposes, even if such use is sanctioned by state
law," said the letter by Arthur Herbert, the ATF's assistant director
for enforcement programs and services.
Federal firearm licensees, or FFLs, can't sell a gun to someone who
answers "yes" when a required form asks whether the buyer is a
controlled substance user. Last week's letter also says that licensed
dealers can't sell a gun or ammunition if they have "reasonable cause
to believe" the buyer is using a controlled substance.
That includes if the buyer presents a medical marijuana card as
identification, or if the buyer talks about drug use, having a
medical marijuana card or a recent drug conviction, ATF spokesman
Drew Wade said Wednesday.
But there are no new obligations for gun dealers outlined in the
letter, Wade said.
"We received lots of queries from the industry from various states of
how to deal with state legislation and the federal law," he said.
"It's our responsibility to provide advice and guidance."
The clash between state and federal drug laws has led to lawsuits and
criminal cases in some of the 16 states that have legalized medical
Officials in two Oregon counties have said they'll appeal to the U.S.
Supreme Court after state judges said sheriffs couldn't deny
concealed handgun licenses for medical marijuana patients.
The Oregon Court of Appeals and the Oregon Supreme Court said the
state law that authorizes concealed handgun permits is separate from
the federal law that outlaws gun possession by drug users, and the
state gun law doesn't address medical marijuana use.
Federal authorities also raided dozens of medical marijuana
operations across Montana this spring, chilling a once-booming pot
industry and leading to sweeping changes in Montana law.
The Department of Justice followed up with a warning letter to
political leaders in many states that federal prosecutors will pursue
marijuana distributors but not individual patients who are following
The letter the ATF sent to gun dealers last week was first reported
by Lee Newspapers of Montana.
Pro-marijuana and gun groups said the policy clarification amounts to
rescinding the gun rights for the thousands of people licensed to use
medical marijuana laws. And it appears to contradict a 2009
Department of Justice memo that said the Obama administration would
not pursue prosecution of individual medical marijuana users who obey
Besides that, the government is putting an additional burden on gun
dealers to police their customers, said Montana Shooting Sports
Association Gary Marbut.
"Their business is to be merchants, not to be cops. Unfortunately,
the federal licensing scheme complicates that," Marbut said. "It
sounds as if the (ATF) is expecting them to drift further into the
Wade said both the 2009 memo and last week's letter were approved by
the Justice Department and he does not believe there is a
contradiction in the two messages. He also that the dealers are in a
good position to help prevent firearms from getting into the wrong
"The FFLs aren't cops but they are at the front line of protecting
America from criminals or people who are prohibited from possessing
firearms," Wade said.
A salesman at one licensed firearms dealer, Montana Outdoor Sports in
Helena, said he doesn't expect much to change as a result of the
letter because it's largely up to the buyer to reveal whether he or
she is a medical marijuana user.
"Who's going to say yes to that?" asked Damon Peters, a sales
associate for the store and a licensed hunting guide. "A lot of
users of medical marijuana aren't really shooting sports enthusiasts,
anyway. I think we may see a sale or two lost, but I don't see
anything dramatic that's going to affect us," he said.