Close-up of a man smoking a marijuana joint

5 gun law facts you should know before toking that first legal joint

Ohio voters overwhelmingly approved Issue 2 on Nov. 7, paving the way for the legalization of recreational marijuana in the state.

The law takes effect 30 days after Election Day, but it still has to go through a planning and rule-making process. Once it does take hold, gun owners should be aware of how the new law affects them before firing up that first joint.

Here are five facts you should know about your rights as a gun owner:

  1. Marijuana is still illegal at the federal level. "Marijuana is a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act, meaning that it has a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision," according to a fact sheet from the U.S. Department of Justice/Drug Enforcement Administration.
  2. 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.
  3. You should be very mindful of points 1 and 2 when purchasing a firearm and completing ATF Form 4473, which is used to conduct a background check. The form asks in question 21(f): "Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?" You might think you are a lawful user of marijuana, but pay close attention to the question's next sentence: "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."
  4. If you answer yes to question 21(f), you are "prohibited from receiving, possessing, or purchasing a firearm."
  5. If you falsely answer no to that question, you are in violation of federal law. As the form states, "I also understand that making any false oral or written statement, or exhibiting any false or misrepresented identification with respect to this transaction, is a crime punishable as a felony under Federal law …"

As we've stated, Buckeye Firearms Association doesn't believe marijuana use should disqualify anyone from lawfully purchasing and/or owning a firearm.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit agrees. In August, the court unanimously ruled that the 1968 law is unconstitutional. The ruling in the case, United States v. Daniels, included comments from Circuit Judge Jerry E. Smith, a President Ronald Reagan appointee.

"Throughout American history, laws have regulated the combination of guns and intoxicating substances. But at no point in the 18th or 19th century did the government disarm individuals who used drugs or alcohol at one time from possessing guns at another."

Smith said some limits historically have been placed on an intoxicated person's right to carry a weapon, …

but it does not justify disarming a sober citizen based exclusively on his past drug usage. Nor do more generalized traditions of disarming dangerous persons support this restriction on nonviolent drug users. As applied to Daniels, then, § 922(g)(3) violates the Second Amendment. We reverse the judgment of conviction and render a dismissal of the indictment.

Patrick Daniels had been arrested in spring 2022 after a traffic stop in Mississippi in which a DEA officer found marijuana butts and two loaded firearms in his vehicle. Daniels was not administered a drug test, nor was he asked if he was under the influence, according to Smith's ruling.

You may remember this was the federal statute that led to Hunter Biden's indictment.

Before you get your hopes too high on that ruling, understand that it is limited to Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas.

Our goal at BFA is to protect gun rights and advance pro-gun legislation, but it is also to educate the public. And so now you know.

Joe D. "Buck" Ruth is a longtime small-game hunter and gun owner who spent nearly three decades in the news industry.

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