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Some Firearm Owning, Recreational Drug Using Americans May be Facing a Dilemma

  1. Beenthere2Hippie
    Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s husband and sons ordered her a new Benelli 12-gauge shotgun as a gift, but when the Alaska Republican—and enthusiastic duck hunter—went to pick it up, she was puzzled by a question on the federal background form she had to fill out.

    The form asked if she used marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes, both of which are legal in Alaska. If she answered yes, she would be unable to get the gun, because federal law prohibits anyone who uses illegal drugs from buying a firearm.

    The senator doesn’t use pot, but she was taken aback by the notion that an activity that’s legal in her state could block gun ownership. “I don’t like marijuana—I voted against legalization—but we passed it,” Ms. Murkowski said in an interview. “Now, you’ve got this conflict.”

    The scope of that conflict just grew, as voters in eight states last week approved marijuana-related ballot initiatives. Now, 28 states and Washington D.C., allow marijuana use in some form, including eight that allow recreational use. Yet federal law still holds that anyone who uses marijuana, even medicinally, is doing so illegally and can’t buy a gun.

    That is upsetting advocates for both gun owners and pot smokers, groups that don’t always find themselves on the same side of the cultural divide.

    “This idea that you somehow waive your Second Amendment rights if you smoke marijuana” is wrong, said Keith Stroup, founder of NORML, which advocates marijuana legalization. “In particular, if you are using marijuana as a medicine, the idea that you have to choose between your health and the Second Amendment is offensive.”

    The Justice Department wouldn’t immediately comment on the matter. Justice oversees the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which regulates licensed gun dealers; as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which runs background checks; and the Drug Enforcement Administration, which classifies drugs.

    The marijuana-gun issue is one of the stranger outcomes of an unusual conflict between state laws, which increasingly allow marijuana use, and federal law, which continues to view pot-smoking as a crime.

    At issue are the applications that would-be gun buyers must fill out when they visit licensed firearms dealers. Question 11(e) on ATF Form 4473 asks whether the purchaser is an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana.

    Under ATF guidance distributed to gun dealers, anyone who answers affirmatively can’t buy a firearm. If a dealer has reason to believe the would-be gun purchaser is a marijuana user, the ATF says it is the dealer’s responsibility to halt the sale of a firearm or ammunition.

    “There are no exceptions in federal law for marijuana purportedly used for medicinal purposes, even if such use is sanctioned by State law,” the guidance says.

    The issue can be tricky, especially for those who oppose drug use but support gun rights. Perhaps for that reason, gun-rights groups have been relatively quiet on the issue. The National Rifle Association, for example, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

    Officials at Gun Owners of America highlight the medicinal-marijuana issue. “GOA finds it very troubling that the Obama administration would use medical issues to ban law-abiding Americans from owning firearms,” said the group’s executive director, Erich Pratt.

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled recently that banning gun sales to medical marijuana users doesn’t violate their Second Amendment rights. Marijuana is a Schedule 1 controlled substance under federal law, the court noted, meaning it has “no currently accepted medical use in treatment.” The Drug Enforcement Administration reaffirmed that status just last August.

    Ms. Murkowski wrote Attorney General Loretta Lynch in March urging her to reconsider the policy. “In my judgment, the disqualification of an entire class of marijuana users acting consistent with state law from possessing any firearm merits a review of federal legal policy,” the senator wrote.

    The Justice Department didn’t respond to requests for comment on the letter.

    Ms. Murkowski said she understands the concerns about gun owners using marijuana, but said similar dangers could arise regarding alcohol. The conflict will likely intensify, she added, as more states approve marijuana use.

    Marijuana advocates say legal users of the drug are discriminated against in other ways as well, from child custody and banking to student loans and public housing.

    “Even if you’re a progressive who doesn’t like guns or a libertarian who doesn’t like public housing, you should still be outraged by the discrimination that people who use marijuana face,” said Tom Angell, founder of Marijuana Majority, which supports legalization.

    By Gary Fields, Kristina Paterson - The Wall Street Journal/Nov. 14, 2016
    Photo: John Blanding, wsj
    Newshawk Crew

    Author Bio

    BT2H is a retired news editor and writer from the NYC area who, for health reasons, retired to a southern US state early, and where BT2H continues to write and to post drug-related news to DF.


  1. jazzyj9
    I think it's annoying how MJ is viewed as being a "drug" but alcohol which is more destructive is okay. I sure wish MJ was federally legal, because I'd love to smoke instead of having a drink and not worry about losing my job.
  2. DeepGreenSea
    The NRA-hypocrites to The Core. Gun Rights are only for the "Clean" White People, "people like us." They don't want the rest of us having guns...

    But all the Hippie Left Wing Weed groups are out there spending money they don't have to try to protect everybody...

    And if Libertarians don't like the Yahoo Racist Element of their party (HST's words, describing the Goldwater/Agnew Crew) then they should stop voting Republican. And they should be Libertarian for Everyone and stop being Anti-Choice.

    ***American Libetarians with Money anyway-like those Jokers at the Cato Institute. God I wish PJ hadn't defected so totally. A man who wants no Goverment but wants to put a whole lotta Goverment Inside of My Body. What a damn shame.)
  3. coolhandluke
    this is something that sticks in my craw. Your going to tell me someone, my father for example, is allowed to get blackout drunk every night with shotguns and pistols. however someone who smokes pot and had their house searched would most likely get trumped up on some ridiculous charge.

    one time before my mom divorced my dad, he was really abusive and he was piss drunk and got and gun out, started spewing some verbal diarrhea about if anyone wanted to come into our house this is what would happen and he chambered a round. while this was mentioned in court during the divorce to show the judge he wasn't fit to be a father he was subject to no endangerment charges.

    a friend i know said this,I love target practice, and it makes me nervous have guns in a safe even though i have maybe 20 dollars worth of pot around at a time. In my state, it asks if you are addicted to alcohol or other substances from what i remember.
  4. detoxin momma
    @coolhandluke, I couldn't agree more with you, my husband is the same way. hes an alcoholic with major depressive disorder, and a concealed carry permit.
    He has shown me that he does not have the best judgement with guns, several times.Always when he was drunk to.
    Other people know that about him to, hes known for having to keep your eye on when hes drunk, and thats scarey! yet, perfectly legal here!
    This is a screwd up scenario, they should be asking about alcohol use, and active conditions.

    In a worse case scenario, if my husband and I did split up, I would definitely have to bring this up in court to.
    Sorry you had to experience that growing up. Thats why I feel like I have to keep my husband on a leash, hes a father, and he can be down right crazy.
    The gun laws do need attention, urgently.
  5. coolhandluke
    alcohol makes some people very angry as well, my dad was never physically abusive but was insanely emotionally abusive. I still can't believe he said the stuff he did to my mother, me, my sister and part of me will never respect him as a man because he isn't one. If this sounds more and more familiar you might wanna not raise children around him.

    alcohol makes people aggressive, guns are very dangerous, its a recipe for a suicide or accident, who knows.
  6. Beenthere2Hippie
    Hey Luke-

    I'm betting that whatever your dad says when he is that insanely drunk he does not actually mean. Alcohol, more than any other drug in my opinion, makes people become stupidly verbally abusive on par with no other substance and leads many people who use it regularly to dwell on sad subjects, argue and fight, get cranky, get crazy and abuse others. Like children, almost.

    If your dad is drinking heavily and becoming verbally abusive on a regular basis then he's likely alcoholic and needs help himself. I understand that you're hurting, as are your sister and mom, but there's a chance your dad inherited his drinking tendency from his family, or possibly has ptsd from a bad life experience, in which case he would be self-medicating with alcohol.

    But I understand fully that being the case does not help take away the terrible sting of his words and actions when he's drunk. For that all I can say is be strong and know you are not alone. We're here and others do care and can fully relate - like me. (hugs)
  7. coolhandluke
    this was years ago, its not only when he's drinking that he is an ungrateful hypocrite. my main point was how angry and out of control he would be and it is deemed legal for him to have guns around.

    He would yell at me about my drug addiction when i got help for it and have been clean, gotten my life together and am at school now, when his shit got hard he chose booze over the family he was supposed to raise. Then he has the nerve to talk ill about me when he was given the choice to go to rehab or get divorced, i took the hard road and got clean.

    The only thing he passed on to me is a liver that has withstood as much abuse as one could ever take. anyway, that's the past, I've moved on but still he is not mine or anybody's idea of a good man or father, that is for sure. Things may be different if he could even acknowledge he may have played some role in how my life turned out and grew up with no father, but he doesn't. i realize he is just a human, however human earn my respect no matter who they are, and he has not.

    lets steer this back on subject
  8. DeepGreenSea
    I was 15 years old the first time my first boyfriend (boyfriend as in All Access Pass) made me play Russian Roulette..."if you Truly Love Me..." I will never forget his mother's white comforter. I kept thinking about what color brains would be against that Snowy Whiteness...

    He's a felon now of course. Even then I knew it was only a matter of time before he ended up in jail ("only if I fail him" is what I really thought at the time.) But everytime I see him (once every 4-5 years) he's strapped-unless he's using and had to sell the illegal piece.

    Sigh. My point? Crazy shouldn't have guns. I'm sorry if that offends any 2nd Amendment Hardliners but if 17 year old Crazy can get and use a gun, and continue to have one whether or not he's a Felon, why punish people using a non-violent plant? A Plant.

    It's all just the Feds against the States with we tiny boxes stuck in the middle. And while I am generally a Federalist-this is one area the Feds have lost their damn minds.
  9. detoxin momma
    @coolhandluke, my husband has never been abusive to me or the kids. Its more in a social setting he has acted out in.
    Once a fight broke out in our yard, a man punched a woman friend of mine in the face.My husband shot his pistol off, in the air, then grabbed that man and pressed the gun barrel into his face.
    Its hot after you fire them off.....

    Ive seen him threaten to hurt himself to when i was mad at him.

    Never has he been abusive towards his family.
    Still, not good judgement in my opinion.
  10. Docta
    Am I missing something here?

    No amendment can be used to set aside the Articles of Confederation, namely article six governing "all Treaties made" "under the Authority of the United States" so until the US gov. opts out of the Single Convention and its supplementary treaties there will be no guns for users of narcotics covered by the single convention.

    The concept that a citizen can opt in and out of the constitution as they see fit is just bizarre.
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