ATF Memo – No Guns for MMJ Patients – VOLUNTARY or Mandatory – Does it Matter?



atf memo denying medical marijuana patients right to own guns - 2nd amendment rights violated

“The letter [memo] written last week by ATF Assistant Director Arthur Herbert to all federal firearms licensees gave them guidance on what to do if a firearms customer reveals that he or she is a medical-marijuana patient.

According to the letter, “any person who uses or is addicted to marijuana, regardless of whether his or her state has passed legislation authorizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes, is an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance, and is prohibited by federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition.Such persons should answer “yes” to question 11.e. on ATF Form 4473.”

The law referenced is not a new one, but the explicit application to medical marijuana patients is.

 

 

Morgan Fox points out in Marijuana Policy Project (MPP)’s blog that this is the agency’s opinion and not legally binding. An individual case posing this particular legal question has not been heard by the federal courts.

 

Read more – below ….



* As reported by:


USA TODAY:

MEDICAL MARIJUANA PATIENTS ANGERED BY ATF BAN ON GUN POSSESSION – CHARACTERIZING MMJ PATIENTS AS DRUG ABUSERS

 

MONTANA: Regennitter [USATODAY Story's subject] says he ingests approximately 10-20 milligrams of THC — the active compound in marijuana — each night before bed to ease the painful symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease and an esophagus condition.

Regennitter is also a hunter and gun owner. According to a new memo from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, it is illegal for him or any registered medical-marijuana patient to own or possess firearms or ammunition.

The letter written last week by ATF Assistant Director Arthur Herbert to all federal firearms licensees gave them guidance on what to do if a firearms customer reveals that he or she is a medical-marijuana patient.

According to the letter, “any person who uses or is addicted to marijuana, regardless of whether his or her state has passed legislation authorizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes, is an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance, and is prohibited by federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition.”

 



Stop the Drug War . org:


ATF Says No Guns for Medical Marijuana Patients

In a memo released last week, the US Department of Justice has notified federal firearms dealers that medical marijuana patients are “addicts” or “unlawful drug users” who cannot legally own weapons or ammunition. A medical marijuana registration card is proof enough to deny a weapons sale, the memo said. That has medical marijuana advocates crying foul, but national gun rights groups — not so much.



cdscenters.org

 

Medical Marijuana Patients Have No Second Amendment Rights Says ATF

 


 

Because cannabis is listed on Schedule I of theControlled Substance Act, it is illegal to sell firearms to a person who uses it. This is the case even when said use is in accordance with state law for medical purposes according to last week’s memo by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF.) ”Marijuana is listed in the Controlled Substance Act as a Schedule I controlled substance,” the memo states “and there are no exceptions in Federal law for marijuana purportedly used for medicinal purposes, even if such use is sanctioned by State law.”

The document is titled “Open Letter To All Federal Firearms Licensees.” It was written by Arthur Herbert, ATF Director of Enforcement Programs and Services, in response to “a number of inquiries about the use of marijuana for medical purposes and its applicability to federal firearms laws.”

Knowing an applicant holds a medical marijuana card is “reasonable cause to believe” that they are an unlawful user of a controlled substance, according to the memo. “As such, you may not transfer firearms or ammunition to the person, even if the person answered “no” to question 11.e. on ATF Form 4473.”

Question 11.e. on ATF Form 4473 asks, “Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?”

The memo states that “any person who uses or is addicted to marijuana, regardless of whether his or her State has passed legislation authorizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes, is an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance, and is prohibited by Federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition. Such persons should answer “yes” to question 11.e. on ATF Form 4473.”

The law referenced is not a new one, but the explicit application to medical marijuana patients is.

Morgan Fox points out in Marijuana Policy Project (MPP)’s blog that this is the agency’s opinion and not legally binding. An individual case posing this particular legal question has not been heard by the federal courts.

“It’s all well and good for a federal agency to tell us what they think the law is, and that’s what ATF has done,” said Keith Stroup, founder of NORML, echoing that sentiment. “But there is no federal or state court decision that has held a medical marijuana patient is disqualified from owning a gun.”

Fox does not forsee this leading to raids of patients who own firearms, thus is more of an ideological concern than a practical one; “more troubling in terms of individual rights and human dignity.”

While they may or may not be willing to expend the resources to enforce this stance, the federal government is stating their right to prosecute patients who also own firearms and/or ammunition. This denies patients the right granted to citizens by theSecond Amendment of Constitution of the United States.

Groups that are typically quite vocal in defense of Second Amendment rights have thus far been silent. The National Rifle Association (NRA) and Gun Owners of America, as of yesterday’s publication of a feature on the topic, had not returned a request for comment by StoptheDrugWar.org. Despite their having been the first to post the letter after the ATF, neither had the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

“This new ATF memo will provide an interesting test to see if the National Rifle Association really does support citizens’ rights to bear arms” wrote Allen St. Pierre, Executive Director of NORML on Wednesday.

What the courts have ruled in regards to gun permits for medical marijuana patients is that states are allowed to issue gun permits to known patients and county sheriffs could not deny them concealed weapons permits. The May ruling by Oregon Supreme Court upheld both the circuit and appeals court decisions.

“We hold that the Federal Gun Control Act does not preempt the state’s concealed handgun licensing statute and, therefore, the sheriffs must issue (or renew) the requested licenses,” the court ruled in a unanimous decision.

The Oregon Sheriff’s Association has appealed the decision to the US Supreme Court which will decide whether to hear the petition on October 7.


“If you’re a medical marijuana patient, don’t mention it when you go buy a gun,”advises Dale Gieringer of CANORML.

Gieringer also cautions dispensary operators. “I assume the feds will be ready to use this if they are prosecuting a dispensary and there were any guns on board.”

“The possession of a firearm could make a medical marijuana patient vulnerable to additional charges and sentencing if convicted of a federal marijuana crime, and patients should be aware of that,” warns Kris Hermes, spokesman for Americans for Safe Access (ASA).

Update:
It is important to note that it is a felony under Federal law to present false information on the Firearms Transaction Record (ATF Form 4473,) one that carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five to ten years. Signing the form acknowledges this statement: “I also understand that making any false oral or written statement , or exhibiting any false or misrepresented identification with respect to this transaction, is a crime punishable as a felony under Federal law.”

“So users of medical marijuana are faced with two choices: pass on gun ownership or illegally lie about their use of marijuana. Unbelievable,” wrote the Denver Post, a publication definitely not known as typically supportive of marijuana, even medical marijuana. “Equally unconscionable is the silence on the issue from gun-rights groups.”

So strong is their stance, the editorial is subtitled “An assault on gun ownership and the closing of pot industry bank accounts in the state highlight the need for legalization.”

The editorial combines this issue with the banking one facing the industry and concludes “These developments, in our view, cast a pall on a recognized industry and once again demonstrate the need for the federal government to decriminalize marijuana and allow states to treat it as they, and their citizens, see fit.”

In the less than 48 hours since the editorial was published, the situation has escalated significantly. The IRS has denied Harborside Heath Center, the largest dispensary in the country, standard business deductions. US Attorneys have sent letters ordering some landlords to close the California dispensaries operating from their properties, threatening their landlords with property forfeiture and even prosecution. The Department of Justice is due to hold a press conference regarding this “coordinated crackdown” later this morning.



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