The ongoing discrepancies between marijuana laws in weed-legal states and marijuana laws at the federal level continue to create challenges and tensions for some consumers. In particular, gun ownership is one of the things that often gets confusing. That’s because admitting to consuming cannabis regularly often disqualifies a person from legally getting a gun permit.
The most recent example of this comes from Delaware. There, a retired Air Force veteran was recently denied a gun permit. The reason: she uses medical marijuana, which is legal in her state.
Medical Marijuana or Guns
Kim Petters was in the Air Force for ten years before retiring to Delaware, where she currently lives. As a result of her time in the military, she now suffers from PTSD. And to help manage her condition, she uses medical marijuana as part of Delaware’s medical marijuana program.
Yet despite the fact that Petters is following all medical marijuana laws in her state, she was recently denied the ability to purchase and own a gun because of her marijuana use.
As part of its application and screening protocols for gun ownership, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) asks gun applicants about marijuana.
Specifically, the language of the application says: “Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?”
At first glance, it might look like there’s no problem with that question if an applicant is following all state laws. But the ATF’S application question is followed up by a warning that says: “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.”
Because of this, Petters had to report her cannabis consumption to the ATF. And as a result, her application was denied.
“Cannabis is the only medication in the entire U.S. that makes you choose between medicine or second amendment rights,” Petters told WFLA News 8. “And that’s just not fair.”
She added: “So if I lie on that form, and say no, I’ve created an entirely different felony, which could land me five years in jail. But if I say yes, I’m denied purchase.”
Federal Laws Win Out
Ultimately, Petters’ situation highlights some of the ways that federal laws about marijuana can still interfere with state laws. And every once in awhile, people try to sue the federal government over the issue.
For example, a Pennsylvania doctor and medical marijuana patient was also recently turned down when he tried to buy a gun. The man, Matthew Roman, then tried to sue the government. Specifically, he claimed that his Second and Fifth Amendment rights were violated.
However, these types of lawsuits rarely get any traction. In particular, it is hard to make a case when federal laws continue to outlaw all forms of cannabis.
“I think ultimately it’s going to come down to a change in federal policy,” lawyer Amy Swearer told WFLA News 8.