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Friday, December 7, 2012

No Guns If You Use Drugs: But What About Marijuana?

I hope there are no guns in that van, because
I'm willing to bet they have some weed.
Living in Colorado, it is hard to avoid conversations and news stories about marijuana right now. For those of you who have been living under a rock, there was an election about a month ago. In addition to voting for the President of the United States, citizens in Washington, Oregon, and Colorado voted on whether to legalize marijuana for recreational use. All three states had already legalized marijuana for medicinal use.

Although it did not pass in Oregon, Washingtonians and Coloradoans voted overwhelmingly to legalize recreational cannabis. In the month that has followed, there has been a lot of discussion about what the Federal Government will do in these two states. Marijuana continues to be classified as a controlled substance under Federal Law. So, even though it is legal to smoke it by state law, the Justice Department may still be able to prosecute users, sellers, and growers.

But, even with all of the discussion, there is one particular aspect of this legalization dilemma that receives little attention: Guns.

Under Federal Law, it is illegal to possess a gun or ammunition if you are a drug user (18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(3)). Specifically, anyone who is "an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance" is breaking Federal Law by possessing a gun or bullets. No handguns. No hunting rifles. Nothing.

Does this mean marijuana users in Washington and Colorado will be breaking both Federal drug laws and Federal gun laws? From a non-lawerly reading of the law, it seems so. It remains to be seen what the Justice Department will do about this issue. In the meantime, it would make me very nervous...paranoid even...if I were a marijuana user and gun owner.

Thanks for reading-- Max Wachtel, Ph.D.
www.CherryCreekPsychology.com
www.Facebook.com/drmaxwachtel
www.Twitter.com/mwachtel

5 comments:

the Federal Government will do in these two states. Marijuana continues to be classified as a controlled substance under Federal Law. So, even though it is legal to smoke it by state law, the Justice Department may still be able to prosecute users, sellers, and growers. Birmingham Process Servers

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