Medical Marijuana Users Can’t Buy Guns Under Federal Law, Says Missouri Firearms Expert

Missourians who have purchased pot in Colorado have already found themselves unable to pass the background check required to buy guns.

Medical marijuana escapes from a canister.
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Missourians who have purchased pot in Colorado have already found themselves unable to pass the background check required to buy guns.

People who use medical marijuana — or have purchased legal recreational pot in a state where it’s legal — won’t be able to buy guns, a Missouri firearms expert tells KMBC-TV (Kansas City).

It’s a problem that the cannabis industry has known about for some time now — namely that cannabis users, even if they have a doctor’s prescription (or, as it’s known in the cannabis industry, a “recommendation”), are violating the law and could find themselves unable to own or purchase guns as a result. However, it’s been more of a theoretical consideration until now, says Missouri firearms instructor Don Pind.

Missouri recently joined the ranks of states that have legalized medicinal marijuana, and the Show-Me State hopes to have operating dispensaries on the ground within a few months. However, Pind says that those patients will have their names entered into a database — a database that will be cross-referenced when they fill out the federal background check paperwork required to purchase and legally own a firearm.

And therein lies the problem: whether a state legalizes cannabis for medical or recreational use, pot is still illegal under federal law. And if you purchase any, you have committed a federal crime — a federal crime which makes you ineligible to own a firearm, according to the feds.

What’s more, when you buy medical or recreational pot, you get your name put into a database, which the feds can easily check when you apply to buy a gun.

you can't buy pot and own guns
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Pind says that it’s already happened to some of his clients. Said clients have gone to Colorado to illegally purchase recreational pot, where it’s legal at the state level — and of course, they’ve had to have their ID’s scanned at the dispensary. They’ve returned home to Missouri, tried to buy a gun, and found that their marijuana purchase disqualifies them.

“They came back to Missouri, went to purchase a gun. You have to have a photo ID. When we run your name through the computer, it automatically connects you with buying marijuana in Colorado.”

It’s only going to get worse for Missourians, Pind says, once medical dispensaries are up and running within Missouri’s borders.

“They came back to Missouri, went to purchase a gun. You have to have a photo ID. When we run your name through the computer, it automatically connects you with buying marijuana in Colorado.”

Meanwhile, Missourians who already own firearms — and who have purchased pot at an out-of-state dispensary, or plan to purchase their own in Missouri once dispensaries are open — should be warned that the feds are looking closely, says the Springfield News-Leader.

John Ham — public information officer with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Kansas City Field Division — says that gun shops across Missouri will soon be getting notices from the agency to inform them of the conflict between Missouri and federal law on pot, and to be diligent about proper vetting of applicants.