ATF: Gun Purchases Barred Even for ‘Legalized’ Marijuana Use

Medical Cannabis
AP/Brennan Linsley

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) is clarifying language on background check form 4473 to let would-be gun buyers know that even “legalized” marijuana use bars them from purchasing a firearm.

The clarification comes in light of “the conflict between Colorado law and federal law,” which results from the dichotomy of marijuana being legal at the state level but federally unlawful.

According to The Colorado Independent, the background check question still asks if the would-be gun buyer is “an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance.” But this question is now followed by the following clarification:

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 clarification will begin appearing on background check form 4473 on January 16, 2017.

Colorado is not the only state where a conflict between state and federal law has highlighted the prohibition against marijuana users purchasing guns. Nevada’s medical marijuana card system has also brought the issue front and center. On August 31, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that marijuana card holders at the state level are barred from gun purchases. That decision resulted from a suit filed by S. Rowan Wilson, a Nevada resident who was denied a firearm purchase in 2011 “after obtaining a medical marijuana card.”

AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and host of “Bullets with AWR Hawkins,” a Breitbart News podcast. He is also the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at


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