Medical/ Recreational Marijuana Use As Related to Gun Ownership

As you likely aware, several states have legalized the use of recreational marijuana and many more have legalized the use of medical marijuana.

I am not going to discuss that topic specifically, but instead its impact on firearm and ammunition ownership.

Marijuana is still considered a controlled substance at the Federal level. Because of this simple fact, any user of recreational or medical marijuana cannot own a firearm or ammunition.

The ATF has written an open letter to FFL license holders on this topic. Please visit their site and read the entire letter. It can be viewed here:

I have taken the main points from the letter and shared them here.

Here is the Federal law:

‘Federal law, 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(3), prohibits any person who is an “‘unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance (as defined in section  102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802))” from shipping, transporting, receiving or possessing  firearms or ammunition.   Marijuana is listed in the Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule I controlled substance, and there are no exceptions in Federal law for marijuana purportedly used for medicinal purposes, even if such use is sanctioned by State law. ‘

‘Federal law, 18 U.S.C. § 922(d)(3), makes it unlawful for any person to sell or otherwise dispose of any firearm or ammunition to any person knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that such person is an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance. As provided by 27 C.F.R. § 478.11, ”an inference of current use may be drawn from evidence of a recent use or possession of a controlled substance or a pattern of use or possession that reasonably covers the present time.” ‘

The ATF letter goes on to state:

‘Therefore, 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.’


I wanted to make a quick mention of this information because I don’t believe this is common knowledge. I am also unaware if any of the states that have legalized the use of marijuana are alerting those who apply for a medical use card or who are engaging in recreational use that they are basically giving up their rights to gun and ammo ownership by doing so.

Please keep in mind I am not offering any legal advice and this is a very simple presentation of this information. If you have any specific questions I would suggest calling your local BATFE branch, your state and local entities that administering these programs and/or your legal counsel.