The ATF rescinded a provision that allowed Michigan residents to buy guns while using marijuana on the low.
An ongoing and often underreported feature of medical marijuana access is that it denies gun rights to patients. According to federal law, it’s a felony for an “unlawful user of … any controlled substance” to “possess … any firearm or ammunition.” By participating in state-legal medical marijuana programs, the feds assume patients are currently using cannabis. They are therefore not allowed to own a gun until 12 months after their last assumed use.
One way Michigan residents have avoided this problem is by obtaining a Concealed Pistol License (CPL). A 2006 provision from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) allowed unlicensed gun dealers in the state to accept a CPL in lieu of conducting a federal background check. This became a loophole for medical patients and recreational users alike in the state to both own a gun and having cannabis access.
But the feds have caught on. The ATF will now require all firearm dealers to conduct background checks on buyers before issuing their gun. That’s because the ATF believes Michigan State Police were granting CPLs to those who didn’t qualify, including “habitual marijuana users.”
“Specifically, ATF learned that CPLs were and continue to be issued to applicants who were likely prohibited due to a conviction for a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, and to habitual marijuana users,” reads an ATF memo sent to all licensed gun dealers. “Although possession and use of marijuana is not unlawful under Michigan law, marijuana remains a ‘controlled substance’ under Federal law, and those using marijuana are prohibited from possessing or transporting a firearm.”
This will force some Michigan residents to choose between medical marijuana access or gun ownership. Anyone who purchases a gun must fill out a Firearm Transaction Record, issued by the ATF. It includes the question: “Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?” Saying yes to this question will block your possible gun purchase. Lying on this form is a felony.
Legal experts have advised recreational users in Michigan to avoid possessing a firearm. Two different laws — one under the criminal code and another under the firearms statute — strictly prohibits possessing a firearm while under the influence of marijuana. Though neither law states a definition for what “under the influence,” the ease at which the state could convict you using a combination of police observation and blood test is too much to risk.
This new advisory by the ATF is yet again an assault on Michigan’s state sovereignty and singularly targets the most law-abiding among us,” Michigan resident Josh Wayner told The Truth About Guns. “The citizens of Michigan voted to legalize marijuana in our state, and as a result of federal overreach, the government has decided to put upstanding citizens, who have the lowest rate of crime here, under the microscope for doing what is legal here if they choose to.”