Gun store
Medical marijuana users cannot purchase firearms, according to the ATF. Photo Credit: Luis Tamayo/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives recently issued a statement denying medical marijuana patients the right to purchase firearms. The ATF asserts that it’s because people under the influence of or addicted to any substance aren’t allowed to buy guns anyway.

ATF says it is already illegal to sell to drug users

A memorandum was recently issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives concerning sales of firearms to medical marijuana patients, according to MSNBC. The ATF had received requests for a ruling on the matter from gun dealers in states allowing medical use of marijuana.

The ATF said federal law prohibits sales of ammunition or firearms to those using a controlled substance. Therefore, Federal Firearms Licensees can’t sell guns or bullets to people using marijuana medically, “even if such use is sanctioned by state law.” FFLs require people to state it on a form if they use a controlled substance.

Ban on firearms sales has medical pot patients fired up

According to the Great Falls Tribune of Great Falls, Mont., Robbie Regenniter, who uses marijuana medically to control painful gastroesophagal conditions and is an avid hunter, is considering canceling his medical marijuana card and getting his supply “black market” so he can continue to hunt.

Some firearms dealers are unhappy that the ATF is turning them into police. According to KCRA, an NBC affiliate in Sacramento, a gun store owner said a “burden is being put on us to be mind readers and know if they have a medical marijuana card.”

A gun store employee in Helena, Mont., according to MSNBC, wasn’t fazed by the law because people choose to admit to being medical marijuana users. He opined that few people would readily admit to having a medical marijuana card. He added that “a sale or two” could be lost, but that most medical marijuana users “aren’t shooting sports enthusiasts, anyway.”

State versus federal law

The federal government doesn’t recognize a medical purpose for marijuana, despite 16 states and Washington, D.C. having authorized it. Federal agents have been raiding dispensaries selling marijuana to legally authorized patients.

This spring, federal agents raided medical marijuana dispensaries in Montana, according to the Great Falls Tribune, on the orders of the U.S. Attorney’s office. Medicinal cannabis use was authorized in Montana in 2004. A dozen such raids were carried out on March 14 in Montana on legal dispensaries, according to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

The Beacon of Light Compassion Center, a nonprofit organization providing medical cannabis to poor patients with legal prescriptions in Bay City, Mich., has been raided by police twice in September, according to, a website for several Michigan newspapers.

Every medical dispensary in Spokane, Wash., received notices to shut down within 30 days in April from U.S. Attorney Mike Ormsby, according to the Seattle Times. Medical use has been legal in Washington state for more than a decade. Several rounds of police raids followed. The U.S. Attorney in Seattle did not follow suit.



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