Updated: Will the liberal state and local politicians suddenly furious over the U.S. Justice Department’s reversal of an Obama administration hands-off policy toward marijuana use in several states be as defensive of pot smokers who want to exercise their Second Amendment rights?
The same politicians who seem to be rushing to defend recreational pot use almost invariably seem to support restrictive gun control laws. Federal law prohibits marijuana users from possessing firearms or ammunition. Politicians in several states where medical marijuana use has been legalized, along with those in places where recreational pot smoking has been okayed, may have a problem
Will Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson or Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan defend Evergreen State gun owners if they also happen to smoke pot, and subsequently get into trouble? The Seattle P-I.com reported that Ferguson and Gov. Jay Inslee have asked to meet with Attorney General Jeff Sessions about this issue. Inslee and Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes are both quoted in the P-I story. Almost a year ago, Ferguson vowed to “defend the will of Washington voters.”
Or would these politicians suddenly turn hardcore law-and-order and throw those gun owners under their rainbow-colored bus?
The Seattle office of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) told Liberty Park Press via email, “The use of or the possession of marijuana – even in a state where it has been legalized or decriminalized – remains unlawful under Federal law. Marijuana is listed in the Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule I controlled substance under 21 U.S.C. § 812(c)(10). There are no exceptions in federal law for marijuana used for medicinal or recreational purposes.
“Accordingly,” the ATF said, “as a matter of federal law, anyone who is a current user of marijuana, regardless of whether his or her state has passed legislation purporting to authorize marijuana use for medical or recreational purposes, and regardless of whether he or she possesses a state-issued marijuana card, is considered an “unlawful user” under 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(3).
“There are no exceptions in federal law for marijuana used for medicinal or recreational purposes.”–Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Seattle office
“The Gun Control Act prohibits any person who is ‘an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance (as defined in section 102 or the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802))’ from shipping, transporting, receiving or possessing firearms or ammunition under Federal law, 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(3).”
Liberty Park Press reached out to Durkan’s office for comment but there was no immediate response.
Social media is busy with discussions about the apparent benefits of marijuana, replete with references to various studies that extoll pot’s virtues. However, pot proponents don’t seem to understand that the alleged benefits and their personal beliefs are not at issue. The only thing that counts is what the federal statute says. There is evidence on the other side of the argument that pot puffing has been followed by an increase in traffic accidents. Data in Colorado seems to suggest there might be a problem, as the Denver Post reported last year. Are cars any more or less dangerous than firearms in the hands of marijuana users?
A few years ago, when pot legalization was on the ballot in Washington and Colorado, proponents were told then that marijuana use would prevent people from exercising their Second Amendment rights. The federal law hasn’t changed just because voters in some states have passed initiatives that ignore the law.
It is much the same as so-called “sanctuary” policies that defy federal immigration laws. This approach has been called “selective enforcement.”
But what happens to the firearm owner who may have a medical marijuana card, and has never committed a violent crime with a gun? What about the recreational smoker who gets stopped by a traffic cop with a gun and a joint in the car? Will pot politicians leap to defend that gun owner’s rights?
The Federal Form 4473 is abundantly clear: “The use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under Federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medicinal or recreational purposes in the state where you reside.” To fib about marijuana use when filling out that form, which is required for a firearms transfer, is a federal felony punishable with fines and/or imprisonment.
This could pose a dilemma for politicians who have taken strong positions about marijuana use and gun control.