Can you carry a firearm and be a legal cannabis user?
Cannabis and firearms. You are a citizen who lives in a state where cannabis is legal. Currently, medical cannabis is now legal in 33 states, 11 of which have also legalized it for recreational use. Let’s say you embrace this legal reality and consume cannabis, either for recreational purposes or for medical reasons. And you decide to buy a gun.
You face a dilemma because, to buy a weapon, you must first fill out Form 4473, the federal background check document issued by the Office of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
Question 11e of that form asks you to ensure that you are not an illegal user or a cannabis addict or any stimulant, narcotic or any other controlled substance.
For the federal government, the possession of weapons and the use of drugs, including the use of legal cannabis in the state, are mutually exclusive. Cannabis users who choose to lie and ignore the federal position do so at their own risk, because lying on Form 4473 can involve up to five years in federal prison.
And due to the increase in social support for background checks, the likelihood of arms buyers being prosecuted for lying on Form 4473 is growing. While the possibility is small, it still exists, and not only as an abstraction: two people in the state of Maine have already been imprisoned for this charge.
As more and more states legalize the use of cannabis, a conflict arises between the federal right to use firearms guaranteed by the second amendment of the Constitution and the right to use cannabis in some states.
Last year a Pennsylvania doctor who consumed and prescribed medical marijuana sued the United States government when he was denied the purchase of a self-defense revolver for being a medical marijuana user. This doctor based his claim on the fact that his right to carry a firearm recognized in the second amendment of the United States Constitution was being violated.
That doctor, Matthew Roman, 34, tried to buy a five-shot Smith & Wesson 638 revolver. However, when the arms dealer asked Roman if he was using marijuana, Roman answered the truth: he said yes, and the seller refused to sell him the gun.
The state attorney concluded that the second amendment does not protect those who choose to take drugs that alter the mind illegally and also want to continue doing so. Recall that cannabis remains illegal at the federal level.
However, the matter is more complicated. At least one state has legalized that medical marijuana users possess weapons. But the most important question is whether it is a good idea to allow the use of cannabis and also possess a firearm. The legalization of cannabis is a reality in some of the most conservative states that are clearly in favor of the use of firearms. For example, Oklahoma has a very important medical marijuana industry and yet the governor signed a law to protect the right of Oklahoma residents to buy marijuana and possess weapons.
In Texas, which is a state reluctant to modify medical marijuana laws, a veteran of the Iraq war acquires cannabis on the black market and in this way he can continue to buy weapons.
Oklahoma law is an example of the conflict between federal laws on firearms and marijuana. The legalization of medical cannabis has been a way to end the stigma and demonization of marijuana. For this reason, Oklahoma believes that it is perfectly compatible to carry weapons with marijuana among law-abiding adults.
On the other hand, daily support for medical marijuana research among war veterans increases. Many veterans claim that cannabis has helped them cope with posttraumatic syndrome (PTSD) and opioid addiction. The reality is terrifying: 20 veterans commit suicide daily, and research suggests that access to weapons increases the risk of suicide. But it is also true that many researchers and doctors say that access to medical marijuana can help reduce veteran suicides.
Unfortunately, Americans have become accustomed to a world in which shootings are a common phenomenon. Some of these shooters have been cannabis and other drug users. But at the moment cannabis has not been related to these massacres.
Surely a large number of cannabis users can own a weapon responsibly. But the weapons that are currently readily available in much of the US increases the possibility that any problem or personal quarrel becomes a terrible slaughter and many believe that adding marijuana to the equation may exacerbate the problem.