The federal regulatory agency overseeing the firearms industry, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), has issued a cautionary notice emphasizing that residents of Minnesota who partake in marijuana consumption cannot legally possess firearms, despite the state’s recent legalization of recreational use.
While marijuana has been legalized for adults in 23 states and many others have implemented medical cannabis programs, the substance remains classified as a schedule I controlled substance under federal law, along with heroin and LSD. According to the St. Paul ATF office, individuals who engage in marijuana smoking or consume cannabis edibles are still regarded as “unlawful users” of a controlled substance in the eyes of the federal government. Consequently, they are barred from owning, transporting, receiving or possessing ammunition and firearms.
Jeff Reed, the acting special agent in charge of the St. Paul field division, urged gun owners to exercise caution, emphasizing that the combination of marijuana and firearms or ammunition remains a federal offense until marijuana is federally legalized.
Rob Doar, an advocate for second amendment rights and vice president of the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus, finds the ATF’s advisory troubling. He has long been aware of the conflicting state and federal cannabis laws, regardless of whether it is used for medical or recreational purposes. Doar advises firearm owners to be mindful of the risks involved, despite the new law in Minnesota preventing sheriffs from denying carry permits based solely on participation in the medical cannabis program or adult marijuana use.
Doar actively advocated for the inclusion of this provision. “If ATF agents did not intend to enforce it, they might have let it slide,” he said, “creating a sort of unofficial acceptance that although it is illegal, similar to other federal cannabis regulations, it would not be enforced. The fact that they issued a notice raises concerns.”
Jason Tarasek, a cannabis attorney representing Vicente LLP, acknowledges that the federal government has generally turned a blind eye to states that have legalized marijuana, allowing them to operate without interference. However, he recognizes the predicament faced by gun owners. “We are currently navigating an intricate dance with the federal government,” he remarked.
Both Tarasek and Doar hope for clear guidance from Washington, whether through legislative measures or executive actions taken by the Biden administration. Tarasek believes that unambiguous direction from the federal government would provide reassurance to individuals in legal cannabis markets, alleviating concerns about potential federal repercussions.
However, Tarasek does not anticipate federal legalization in the near future. He points out that a decade ago, during the Obama administration, the Department of Justice issued guidelines indicating that it would not interfere with states that legalized marijuana as long as it did not hinder federal law enforcement priorities. Unfortunately, these guidelines were rescinded by then-U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions during President Donald Trump’s tenure.
The dilemmas that users of medical marijuana face in states where such programs exist justify the attempts by enterprises such as IGC Pharma Inc. (NYSE American: IGC) to formulate medicines that pass FDA scrutiny. Such formulations would address the medical needs of patients without posing any risk of adverse legal repercussions.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to IGC Pharma Inc. (NYSE American: IGC) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://cnw.fm/IGC
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