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Marijuana And Firearms: The ATF’s Warning To Minnesota And Possibly Beyond

Minnesota has recently joined the ranks of states legalizing recreational cannabis use. However, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) warns that marijuana use doesn’t permit activities like gun ownership, as marijuana remains a Schedule I substance under federal law.

The ATF’s St. Paul branch made this distinction clear, explaining that the mixing of marijuana with firearms remains federally illegal until marijuana is fully legalized at the federal level. This announcement could potentially impact thousands across the 23 states that have legalized cannabis recreationally and others that have approved it for medical use.

“Until marijuana is legalized federally, firearms owners and possessors should be mindful that it remains federally illegal to mix marijuana with firearms and ammunition,” Jeff Reed, ATF’s acting special agent in charge in St. Paul, stated to CBS News.

The ATF’s communication has raised concerns, as it implies that legal marijuana users could be prosecuted for owning guns. Despite assurances from Attorney General Merrick Garland that prosecuting those obeying state marijuana laws wasn’t a priority, the Justice Department has yet to return to the Obama-era stance of non-interference with states legalizing marijuana.

The Biden administration recently defended firearm restrictions for marijuana users, arguing such limitations are necessary as marijuana could impair a person’s ability to handle guns. Courts have upheld these restrictions, including a notable 2016 case by the 9th Circuit Court, affirming that these bans are in line with the Second Amendment.

However, this issue remains contentious. Many argue that marijuana use doesn’t induce violent crime, contradicting the 9th Circuit’s rationale. Furthermore, a significant shift in public opinion has occurred, with a recent survey indicating over 88% of Americans supporting either medical or recreational legalization of marijuana. Despite this, certain lawmakers, like Sen. Ron Johnson, continue to express reservations about legalization.

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