While no sane person claims that legal cannabis and guns go together, it seems most people understand that like alcohol, one can enjoy both safely at separate times. Despite this in 2016, the ATF made a change to question 11 on the 4473 –the federal form that any transfer of ownership through a federally licensed firearms dealer requires to complete, and on which it is a federal crime to lie– making it explicitly clear that use of products containing cannabis, even in a state which had deemed it legal is enough to bar someone from exercising an enumerated right.
Specifically, the added language reads: “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.” In layman’s terms, whatever your crazy state might think, the ATF is here to ensure that if you snort 13 marijuanas and go on a shooting spree, it won’t be with a legally transferred gun. Of all the ways a federal LEO could flex its authority to ensure the continued safety of the average American, it sure is one of them.
Since the feds made this move to heroically place themselves between the sleepy, bloodshot eyes of pot-related gun violence and the American public, that public has –resoundingly– voted for them to sit back down. In fact 37 states, D.C., and Guam now have some form of legal weed. Further, some of those states have even produced rulings that preclude concealed carry permit issuing agencies from discriminating against legal marijuana users. Legally owned cannabis and guns are somehow existing in the same household without producing violent waves of crime hundreds of thousands if not tens of million of times a day across the country. It’s almost like people who obey the law are poorly represented when it comes to the commission of violent crime.
Despite this, neither Trump nor Biden made any moves towards recognizing a states right to self-determination on this topic. In fact as recently as last year, Biden defended the ATF positioning itself as arbiter of your legal recreational decisions. Cannabis and guns seemed destined to be federally prohibited from cohabitating legally forever until just recently when, as it sometimes does, Oklahoma happened.
Citing Bruen, a Trump-appointed federal judge struck down the prohibition on gun ownership due to otherwise legal cannabis use. The historical test Bruen requires is shaping up to cut a swath through a bevy of restrictive gun laws that have sat on the books unopposed for decades. Cannabis and guns is just one small facet of this, as the wave of court cases challenging laws that blatantly violate it illustrates.
While there is certainly potential for abuse –as there is with any liberty– either we must presuppose our fellow countrymen are adults who are capable of making responsible decisions, or we must abandon the pretext of liberty and grant the feds power to restrict everyone’s behavior, “for their own safety”. Regardless of the party calling for the restriction, those who love liberty should resist. Allowing ownership of both cannabis and guns is simply an extension of this line of thinking, and no freedom-minded person should be threatened by it on principle.