Cannabis and gun ownership


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Oct 4, 2016
I got to talking about this with a few friends, some of whom consume pot, and some of whom have LTCs. I don't care for the stuff myself, but the discussion left me with some questions.

The following things are well-established and very clear:
  • Cannabis use remains federally illegal.
  • Question 11e on the Form 4473 therefore precludes a marijuana user from purchasing a firearm (without lying, which is no small offense).
But, suppose you truly are not a user of pot (or any other drugs), buy your guns, and then smoke pot.

My understanding is that this would make you a prohibited person, prohibited from, among other things, possessing firearms. This seems like a contentious point, though, with friends arguing it only comes into play when purchasing firearms. Does this have a clear answer?

And, assuming I'm right and a pot-smoker cannot possess guns, two other questions them emerge. First: when do they stop being a "user" in the ATF's eyes? When they decide to not smoke pot anymore? When they can pass a drug test?

Admittedly, it seems unlikely that the ATF would bother with an otherwise-law-abiding citizen who smoked pot once and didn't do anything else. (But then again, sometimes it seems like only the otherwise-law-abiding citizens are actually charged for gun violations.) But I'm mostly interested in what the law says, not whether you'd get caught.
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Dec 10, 2016
Warning: The use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under Federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or
decriminalized for medicinal or recreational purposes in the state where you reside

The term “unlawful user of a controlled substance” means a person who uses a controlled substance in a manner other than as prescribed by a licensed physician. A one time use of a controlled substance is not sufficient to be an unlawful user under the applicable statute. Rather, the Defendant must have been engaged in the regular use of a controlled substance either close in time to or contemporaneous with the period of time he possessed the firearm. The law does not require that the Defendant used the controlled substance at the precise time he possessed the firearm. An inference that Defendant was an unlawful user of a controlled substance may be drawn from evidence of a pattern of use or pattern of possession of a controlled substance that reasonably covers the time a firearm was possessed.
FindLaw's United States Sixth Circuit case and opinions.

Also relevant,
“Wilson could have amassed legal firearms before acquiring a registry card, and [the law and] the Open Letter would not have impeded her right to keep her firearms or to use them to protect herself and her home.”
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