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Question 11E on ATF Form 4473 (required for the purchase of a firearm from a federal firearms licensee) reads as follows: “Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant or narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?” It seems crystal [meth] clear that a lawful user of marijuana who is not addicted to the drug may purchase a firearm from an FFL. Unfortunately, marijuana is a Schedule I Drug under the Controlled Substances Act. Possession is a federal crime. Not to belabor the point, as far as Uncle Sam is concerned, marijuana use is illegal. In 2011, when marijuana legalization started gathering steam, the ATF sent states a letter telling them that they would not yield. Until someone gets a knock in their head about the futility of the War on Drugs, no Rocky Mountain High for you, Mr. gun guy.

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  1. A stoner with a gun should be a Saturday Night Live skit, not a federal crime. Besides, it gives a whole new meaning to “shotgunning ganja.”

  2. Would it be too cynical of me thinking if Obummer were to legalize weed in all 50 states he could claim that everybody was a user and use that too enact a firearm ban.

    • It wouldn’t be cynical. It would be typical bat-s**t crazy Right Wing conspiracy whack-a-doodle “thinking”.

      • Similar to left-wing bat**** whack-a-doodle “thinking”, then?

        Like GMOs are going to give us all cancer and vaccines cause autism?

        Party of Science™

        • Hey, both sides have elements that are crazy. The liberals will go to any extreme to blame Bush for 9/11, the righties will blame Obama for Newton.

        • Democrats and Repulicans have ruined this once-great nation. I am not offering, nor do I have, a solution to this.

        • Wait a minute, I definitely read that the “vaccines cause autism” line was a Right-wing thing. Did your Seemingly Respectable Internet News Outlet tell you it was a Left-wing thing?

          I think we need to shake hands and stop bothering with the media.

  3. This issue cam up in my little town in California, where a stoner with a state medical marijuana card (prescription from a doctor, at least in theory) could not understand why the local gun store (owned by the then mayor) refused to sell him a gun, complaining that it was “discriminatory.” The FFL said he empathized, but nonetheless was unwilling (understandably) to risk his license. Same issue arises in Washington state.

  4. Well all intoxicants and guns do not mix well. But we don’t send out letters to gun dealers that state alcoholics or strong pain meds are ‘abuse’ is a reason to ban people from having or buying guns. The fact that the ATF is trying to push extra restrictions for marijuana is just the same old same old with the Feds.

    • Not really. Alcohol, for better or worse, is legal. Federal Law is clear that users of ILLEGAL drugs are ineligible to own firearms. Cannabis is illegal.

      The ATF is simply obeying the same law that a bipartisan Congressional agreement passed.

      I don’t like it either, and I don’t use any illegal drugs including cannabis. So change the law.

  5. Yup.Regardless of what your state legislature might think, ganja is still illegal.If you acquired a state issued Marijuana card, all you’ve done is give the local Federal prosecutor a slam dunk case.

    Have a marijuana card? That’s official evidence you’re an ongoing user of an illegal substance.Which means you get to join the Lautenberged crowd on the No Guns For You List.

    Note:MJ laws are another one of the many Federal statutes I disagree with.But that’s the facts of life.

    And before anyone asks, yes, there are “FEDERALLY lawful users of medical MJ” ,which is why the language was included in the 4473 presumably.No, it’s not something you or I can participate in.If I recall the info right, it was a Federal medical program for pain management which started in the 70’s and got shut down in the late 80’s or early 90s, so there’s maybe ten people in America who can legally toke up anywhere , using Federally supplied MJ.As long as those folks stay in the program, they can toke up wherever they like without risk of arrest.That being said, those poor souls had REALLY nasty medical conditions which warranted the prescriptions.Stuff like constant muscle pain ,etc.

    • I think I saw one of those guys lighting up outside the capitol building on Penn and Tellers “Bullsh*t.” Pretty funny because he not only can smoke, but gets supplied by the federal government (can’t have them buying from drug dealers)!

    • >>If you acquired a state issued Marijuana card, all you’ve done is give the local Federal prosecutor a slam dunk case.

      I don’t see how. At best having a State-issued medical cannabis ID gives you the legal ability to possess, cultivate, or use cannabis for medical use in the State in question under that State’s law. But merely having a card entitling you to use the drug doesn’t mean that. . . :

      a. You actually ARE using cannabis on a regular basis (ie that you are a “user” as relates to the question on the 4473 form). EG, just because I have a driver’s license, doesn’t mean I actually drive a car every day, does it? Just because a doctor gave me a prescription for Motrin, doesn’t mean I filled it, let alone are actually taking it. Etc.
      b. That you use cannabis AT ALL (see above). Sure, having the card means you PROBABLY use the drug. . .but it may not.

      c.That you actually POSSESS any cannabis at any given point in time.

      d. That you’re “addicted” to the drug in question (which is another sub-part question on the form 4473). I think there is room to argue about whether cannabis, is a physiologically addicting drug AT ALL, but regardless, if you’re legitimately using it under the guidance of a physician to treat a specific medical issue (eg multiple sclerosis spasticity, etc), then you probably aren’t an “addict” under any commonly used definition of same.

      e. That a Federal prosecutor could prove any of the above beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury of your peers.

      In short, while having a medical MJ card is evidence that you might be a “user” of cannabis, its certainly not “proof”, and just the fact that you have a card probably isn’t by itself enough evidence to secure a conviction for misrepresentation on a 4473. .

      As to the entire issue, I “get” that cannabis is illegal under Federal law, but bluntly, its illegality is predicated on a fundamental lie (ie that the drug has absolutely zero recognized medical use, something that in this day and age has been widely discredited).

      If/when the BATFE or anyone else can show how cannabis users (let alone actual State-sanctioned MMJ card holders) who own firearms pose a disproportionate risk to the public, then we can talk about what the proper way is to mitigate that risk. But until/unless that happens, I don’t see any reason why a cannabis user (medical or otherwise) should be denied their second amendment rights. Do we deny cannabis users their first amendment rights? How about their 4th or 5th amendment rights?

      • > As to the entire issue, I “get” that cannabis is illegal under Federal law, but bluntly, its illegality is predicated on a fundamental lie (ie that the drug has absolutely zero recognized medical use, something that in this day and age has been widely discredited).

        Actually, it’s illegality (on the federal level) is predicated on a different fundamental lie, namely that Federal government has any constitutional rights to regulate drugs and similar substances. Drug control is such a clear-cut states rights issue that I don’t know why there’s even a debate about it. The Feds might step in when it crosses state lines, but as it is, their power to regulate intrastate sales hinges on the ridiculously expansive unconstitutional interpretation of Commerce Clause that literally allows them to regulate anything.

  6. Siting on your couch smokin’ a little smoke shouldn’t be anymore illegal than sitting on your couch drinkin’ a little drink.

  7. The past few presidents have smoked dope and done coke at various points in their lives and were then handed the nuclear football upon assuming office and given access to all the country’s secrets.

    But you, smoking marijuana from time to time, are a terrible criminal that can’t be trusted with a gun.

    If it’s legal in your state and you’re not addicted, answer the question truthfully.

    • That’s what baffles me. We’ve got such a focus on fighting teh drugz but our last 3-4 presidents *all* have done pot, and at least 2 of them have tried harder stuff too–and admitted it!

    • “If it’s legal in your state and you’re not addicted, answer the question truthfully.” Which, of course, means you’ll be denied. “Legal in your state” means nothing, and you’re perjuring yourself if you decided otherwise and answer “no” to 11e.

      • This, the question asks if you use OR are an addict. If you use pot, even if only occasionally, you are a prohibited person.

      • I don’t think you got his point.

        If you live in a state where it’s legal, and you’re not “addicted to pot,” you’re answering truthfully when you state that “no” you are not an illegal user, or addicted to marijuana.

        Oh, 4473 is a federal form, you say? Fine, you can care. I don’t.

        I guarantee that we will see a supreme court case on this in the next five years.

        • Right. The question on the form is worded in a such vague way that answering it the way they want you to would actually be lying if you are indeed a lawful user of marijuana who’s not addicted to it.

          It does not say:

          “PURSUANT TO FEDERAL LAW ‘**** YOU THAT’S WHY’ 2359023590230-X, Section 3c, Part II, Sub-paragraph F, sentence 9008, line 100000, are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to marijuana?”

          If they want to update the question they’re free to do so, but until that time you should answer it truthfully.

        • Mike,

          A resident of Washington or Colorado IS answering the question truthfully, even if they smoked a joint a week ago.

      • I disagree with the interpretation of perjury law applied here. It certainly is legal within the constraints listed on the form. I’m open to seeing a case in which a perjury charge sticks under these circumstances in a federal jury trial (as opposed to a plea bargain in which a perp accepts a perjury charge to get a greater charge reduced).

        Five of nine sitting Justices have declared, in various dissents, that cannabis should not be criminalized. Justice Thomas has opined, in a dissent, that the federal Controlled Substances Act is unconstitutional, as it violates the reservation of the police power reserved by the Constitution to the states.

        Every cop knows in his heart that if he could have one drug off the street on Saturday night, it wouldn’t be pot. It would be alcohol.

        • The ATF wants non-addicted legal marijuana users to perjure themselves on a background check form.

        • I’m pretty sure there was a case just recently that upheld your 5th amendment right to not incriminate yourself on a 4473. So answering no on all of the questions is a protected right.

          (Edit: nope it was something different about the 4473 that I was thinking of. But still it seems like a legitimate argument that you shouldn’t have to answer possibly self incriminating questions to exercise a right. I guess that has more to do with the fact the regulations are infringements to begin with.)

        • I guess that has more to do with the fact the regulations are infringements to begin with.


          From the old joke: Madam, we’ve already established what you are. Now, were just negotiating price.

    • I don’t smoke weed, but if that’s the avenue it will take to get the states to grow a set and take back their rights I’ll be it’s biggest champion…..

  8. Great, now it’s only a matter of time before MDA will push for a sweeping ban on Scooby Doo reruns and a 5-day waiting period for Doritos.

  9. Well it seems that the key words abuser and addicted to certain substances is what question 11E on ATF Form 4473 is referring to. Self medicating like marijuana I’m not so sure about.

    • The word “abuser” does not appear on ATF Form 4473.

      Form 4473, question 11e, asks: Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?

      If you occasionally smoke marijuana, you, according to federal law, are “an unlawful user of marijuana”.

      • Don, it all depends on what the meaning of ‘illegal’ is. Something you know to be legal is not illegal. If they want to invoke in clear terms the definition of ‘legal’ according to the terms of a particular statute, let them say so on the form, include the language, and put it all in legible type. All a client needs to do is present the state statute making consumption explicitly legal.

        I avoid drugs and heavy drinking because I have to make decisions at odd hours. I am thoroughly sick, though, of boozers (whether grandmas, LEO’s, pol’s, whomever) insisting pot stay criminalized, so that the only relaxing anxiety reducers are either dangerous benzodiazepines or alcohol. It’s bad law, bad health policy, and has no basis in science. The most dangerous drugs in the US, those leading to the most crime and especially early mortality, are produced legally by the pharmaceutical industry and then leaked out of the system in large quantities. The FBI and DEA proved this years ago with Qualudes and then again with Oxycontin. And we criminalize cannabis? It’s a jobs program, nothing more. And “because it’s the law” means nothing where the wrong is obviously malum prohibitum, not malum in se.

      • Don, when a state legalizes cannabis consumption and thousands of people go out on the town to buy and enjoy it, why on earth would you maintain that occasionally consuming cannabis disqualifies you from owning a firearm, or of possessing it when you are not high? So long as the state’s statute has not been invalidated, it is the law. There is, it is true, a conflict between federal and state laws, for certain states. But the error, short of a US Constitutional amendment, is on the part of the feds, not the states.

        This interference with the state police power is WHY alcohol prohibition required a constitutional amendment: It isn’t enough to simply vote a statute in when a constitutional modification of the reservation of the police power to the states is specified. You must change the constitution. People in government try to act otherwise merely for the political convenience (and constitutional outrage) that follows. SCOTUS would probably clarify this, but, as they say, “A stitch in time saves nine.” Political pressure can be astoundingly powerful.

        I suppose I would ask you to explain what constitutional provision gives the federal government the right to ban or burden the consumption of cannabis. The substance certainly has not proven hazardous in use or research trials, compared to other legal substances. Many think the ban is merely a political artifact from a time when few ordinary folks actually knew what cannabis was, or what its effects were, and when Temperance and fear of immigrants was rampant.

        I’ve been offered weed at parties by astoundingly senior government officials domestic and foreign over the years. You know, the ones that go in the next day and set tax regulations or allocate defense budgets. Defense Secretary Tower used to, quite apparently, drink up a storm, and it showed the next day in a way that cannabis wouldn’t. Nixon was under the influence of alcohol, according to his staff, when he sent me and my mates into some very poorly conceived operations in RVN. Better he should have smoked some, got a good night’s sleep, and thought the thing through a bit the next day. More breathalyzers are clearly needed not to back up charges, but simply to stop decisions from being made under the influence, “Stop making policy. Go to sleep. You are over .08!”

  10. When it comes to becoming a prohibited person, Mr. Gun Guy; you toke, you choke.

    And whether or not you “medicated” or “inhaled” has nothing to do with it.

    • Or just ‘on something’.

      That IS a great idea for a gun shop’s DBA name, though. Just leave the questionable stuff alone. The FFL license is way too valuable.

  11. If you’re not stoned when you fill out the 4473, you didn’t lie.

    I personally don’t give two shits about the fed’s opinions on marijuana, because I live in Washington, and not even the cops here care any more.

    • As a police officer I say, legalize it. More problems are caused by alcohol and hard drugs like coke, heroin and meth. Too many valuable resources (money, manpower, equipment) are being wasted fighting a drug war that we have been losing for decades and has no end in sight.

      • I strongly agree. I can see a large benefit to getting pot out of the hands of gangs, who absolutely use it as a gateway drug, giving free samples of hard drugs to their cannabis buyers.

        • It does happen. Also, if pot heads had the choice to go to a retail store where they could buy weed just like alcohol or cigarettes instead of having to meet with some slimeball drug dealer it would signifcantly cut down on the violent crime that is associated with drug transactions. Street gangs love to take advantage of college kids and recreational users because most of the time they dont have the means or desire to fight back.

      • It’s coming. Now that Washington and Colorado has shown the way, more states will follow in short order. Oregon, Maine, California and Massachusetts next, likely. Hopefully also Arizona and New Mexico.

        Unfortunately, this is one area where red states are likely to lag behind a lot. Republican voters seem to be generally disapproving of it on the “tough on crime” grounds.

  12. Do you want to know why weed is still illegal? It’s because corporations like Corrections Corporation of America (privately owned prisons) lobby congress to keep it illegal so they can keep their prisons full of inmates. They receive millions in tax dollars to keep people locked up. They also like to keep illegal immigrants locked up at the tax payer’s expense as well, instead of deporting them like they should.

    • There is also:

      – Big pharmaceutical companies. They want you to take their drugs not yours. Never mind that their drugs are way more dangerous and harmful.

      -Big government. Without the war on drugs many government agencies, budgets, taxes, curtailment of our civil liberties, etc. would be cut and many without a job screwing over people’s lives.

      -Justification for our foreign policy overseas to make sure these “bad drugs” don’t get in when ironically it is our government bringing them in!!!!

      There are probably more areas not covered but these are some of the many reasons why weed will not be legalized federally unless there is a Supreme Court ruling. Even if there is a favorable ruling the feds will put it off and neuter it to the point of irrelevancy like the Heller/McDobald decisions for our 2nd Amendment rights.

  13. Hesus Cristos, more Constitutionally imbecilic morons regurgitating 100yrs of Regressive Statist Fascist Indoctrination.

    The Supremacy Clause is about the SUPREMACY of the Constitution, NOT about Federal Govt ‘over’ the States. Supremacy clause actually states:

    This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.

    Laws which shall be made in pursuance there of the Constitution shall be the supreme law of the land, is what it actually states.

    A bunch of morons and $100,000+ debt in statist textbook drone indoctrinated ‘professionals’ yapping shit cluelessly, something that even a five year old who can read can clearly decipher with no problems.

    Alas, therein lies the problem with this dying Republic: nobody in ‘proper position’ of autho-ri-teh, have any fucking clue, yet they get to destroy others’ lives with their statist fascist authoritarian interventionist POV of the world.

    Govt Terrorists, always the same.

  14. Technically, nicotine is a stimulant. So if you are addicted to tobacco, you shouldn’t be able to buy a gun from an FFL.

    I’d like to point out that because of the way the ATF form is worded then, the President of the United States cannot buy a gun from an FFL. He’d have to go to a private seller and buy without a background check. We should ask him how he feels about that.

  15. Just wait until the feds start cross referencing the medical marijuana prescription records, thanks to Obamacare’s trampling over your medical right to privacy, with the NICS database. We may yet hear some howling out of the mythical “liberal gun owner”, but hey, that would at least be the most concrete evidence ever of their alleged existence.

    • Occasionally one actually replies to a comment on here and I get to read it, mostly it seems that all we get to is “Hey we both like guns” and then it goes directly to Conservative vs Liberal again over and over. just my 2 cents, I dont see all the posts nor pretend to, just the general feeling Ive gotten from the comments.

      • It’s how US politics works. It’s deliberately arranged that way, because while you’re arguing over guns, gays and abortion, things like handing over billions of dollars to private parties (aka “bailout”) happen relatively quietly and uncontested.

  16. Well….with the state law in Colorado making it legal to smoke weed….there is already a steam rolling effect in tourism. Stop and consider….how many more states will follow suit because of the tax revenue Colorado will have/gain thru the tourism increase and is already increasing by the way.

    My point is…this very well may pave the way to finally stop a idiotic but well crafted law to protect the timber industry…the booze industry….the oil industry….the petro chemical industry….etc etc (And study out the federal law outlawing hemp/weed)…which has created so much revenue for logistics suppliers to federal agencies and private looters alike at the expense of just honest hard working people that just wanted to relax.

    I point to a liquor store sign that is posted every year in Grand Junction Colorado at the beginning of the hunting seasons and remains til the seasons are over and the out of state hunters leave and reads as follows:


    A real sign…need there anything else need saying?

  17. the problem with pot is the 14 days its detectable in your system. too easy to find even after you havent been having fun

  18. “UNLAWFUL USER OF” the answer is NO because it’s use in that area IS NOT unlawful! I don’t smoke or live in CO, but if I did that would be my defense.

  19. Mythical Liberal Gun Owner checking in.

    I’ve often joked that I’d be a stupidly cliche hippie (and lord knows there’s enough around here) but for my love of fast cars and things that go boom.

    I live in one of the states that recently legalized and started sales (not Washington – and don’t forget to say hello to Agent Mary; I’m sure she’s loving this article and all these comments!) and I own several firearms and absolutely enjoy spending quality time with my politically dubious toys. I’d put the availability of firearms up there with national parks (and I’m sure some of you will disagree with the latter statement in relation to this) as a portion of the ideas and ideals that make this country great.

    I’m a fan of public healthcare (why shouldn’t we choose pool our resources to the end of keeping everyone healthy?), yet Obamacare strikes me as a typically compromised lobby-influenced and watered-down attempt to do real good.

    The federal government isn’t going just ‘go away’ for any conceivable length of time without major plot twists (obviously either internal or external), but we the people need to remember that WE are the sovereign base of authorization and ability for the world’s current superpower. Here, we the people chose to first pseudo-legalize with easy-to-get ‘Red Cards’ (Medical Marijuana, forthwith known as MMJ), and after a few years of that experiment / minor tax windfall, we VOTED to legalize recreationally. Hurry your sober, stoned, drunk or phloating on pharmaceuticals asses up and do the same – it means the cops have more time to deal with the real stuff and it helps pad the public coffers, amongst a whole host of other reasons, most of which I value personally involve giving people coming to ‘New Amsterdam’ somewhere else to spend their time and money homogenizing with chain restaurants, and upscale lofts, et al.

    I’m not willing to discuss my personal relationship with the fair green plant due to the keystroke moniters from watching porn (young, good looking, smart and single for you similarly blessed lady readers out there … Or maybe plugging myself right after mentioning porn isn’t a good idea … I guess at least it shows a healthy sexual drive), but I can assure you that the majority that Amendment 64 passed by (59% for) indicated that it’s not just the hipsters, ski bums and young toughs in the city voting for it. I can’t say with any certainty that some of the ‘suits’ (you older corporate types out there) who had to have voted for it smoke pot on the regular AND own and at least semi-regularly shoot guns (for some reason there’s not likely to be much data there), but simple probabilities dictate that at least some of those people exist, and you can bet that at least somewhere in the DOJ somebody’s done at minimum a portion of the legwork to connect known firearm ownership with known marijuana use.

    Personally, I’d be (hypothetically) upset enough about some wingtips and suits showing to confiscate based on those kind of records to politely (and hypothetically) tell them where they can put that request, and then (hypothetically) prepare accordingly for the black boots that are sure to follow.

    This isn’t a particularly comforting hypothetical, but without a nation-wide legalization movement we the people are leaving open another not-so-small crack in the door for those who would assume and eventually opress based on propaganda or political power to do just that: effectively remove a portion of those folks who are known to openly disagree with federal policy and own firearms from the threat board.

    So even if you don’t smoke, go vote. If things indeed go poorly, especially in those places where the evil weed is still highly illegal, it’s pretty easy for a morally-corrupt-but-righteous-type in a position of authoritay to drop a baggie and bam, you’re suddenly the scum of the earth due to the involvement of firearms.

    Go vote. Take it upon yourself to be educated on all sides of our times. As a citizen, that’s your (and my) damn job. We’ve still got the opportunity to keep this nation great, through knowledgable discourse and good science supported by great education. Right now, maybe we the people aren’t making all the right choices when it comes to spending our time, money, and civil rights (personally and collectively) and the Only Way To Fix This Country Is To GET SMART. Politicians and corporations may currently rule our game, but it’s still our game, right up until we decide to vote badly or sit on our collective butts to make it otherwise.

    The connection between legalizing pot and the related legal ambiguity towards firearms might seem unrelated to the core of other issues we gun owners have with other regulation on our beloved broomsticks, but it could well come to be the defining issue of modern America (#%@& yeah!), and not just for those of us who own and enjoy guns.

    So go vote, and go agitate if you feel it’s necessary, but be smart. Use sound science and try like the dickens to avoid the politics of right and left when formulating policy, and recognize that we the people must work together to ensure at minimum a better tomorrow and a decent today. We’re building our future now; both with marijuana legalization here out west and the slow creep of legislation and executive orders relating to sanctioned environmental destruction, firearms, privacy, and the otherwise continually growing role of government in everyday life. A brighter future and a darker future are the two sides of our choice coin, and right now I’d argue that collectively, we’re flubbing the toss.

    We can do better. So let’s.


    P.s. As the (maybe slightly too vocal) kid of two parents with biology degrees and a passed-on love of science, please do your utmost to ensure use of environmentally sound shooting practices. I love flinging lead down range as much (or maybe more than … Heh) as the next guy, but that doesn’t mean I want my great grand kids or the deer I might shoot next season to be traipsing around in a heavy metal playground ’cause you’re too good for a dedicated range and backstop.

    P.p.s. To the editors: I only found this site in the past few days (already read pretty much everything from the past couple months, comments included), but if you’re interested in hearing more from a Mythical Liberal Gun Owner, obviously I’ve currently got lots of time to spew (hopefully somewhat coherent and meaningful) words all over a screen. Maybe if the stars align and the powers that be happen to see this gigantic comment, you’ll toss me an email and we’ll see if it kicks anything loose.


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