SD Ballot Initiative On Pot Runs Afoul Of Federal Gun Laws

When I was a kid, pot was illegal and while there were some who wanted to see it legalized, there wasn’t really any broad support for such a measure. It looked like marijuana was going to remain illicit forever.

However, that doesn’t really seem to be the case anymore.

A number of states have some form of legalized marijuana on the books and while federal law still bans it, the feds aren’t exactly kicking in the doors of lawful dispensaries.

Yet there are still problems with legalized pot, and a ballot initiative in South Dakota highlights a big one.

If South Dakota voters approve proposed Constitutional Amendment A that would legalize recreational marijuana for people age 21 and older, or Initiated Measure 26 that would legalize medical marijuana, South Dakota’s would-be gun buyers could find themselves in a legal jam.

That’s because one of the questions the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives asks on its firearms transaction record is, “Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?”

The form goes on to note, “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.”

KELOLAND News asked several leaders for the pro-marijuana side about it. Drey Samuelson said he had to do some quick digging.

“Amendment A and Measure 26 make no changes to gun laws in South Dakota. This is a federal issue that affects all states,” Samuelson replied. “As is the case in all 34 states that have legalized medical marijuana and in the 11 states that have legalized marijuana for adults, state policies do not change the fact that marijuana remains illegal under federal law.”

And Samuelson is correct. Legalizing marijuana on a state level doesn’t change the federal laws at all.

What that means, though, is that the feds need to either fish or cut bait on the issue of marijuana.

See, while the federal government has mostly taken a hands-off approach on pot at the state level, that approach has raised a number of questions. What the federal government needs to do at this point is either tell the states that it’s not their call to make or, back off on considering marijuana an illicit substance, or at least change federal gun laws so that marijuana consumption isn’t a prohibitive act for purchasing a gun.

This would also help prevent acts like the Honolulu Police Department comparing marijuana cards with gun licenses and demanding those with pot cards turn in their guns.

At the end of the day, what I’m really wanting to see is the federal government maintain something close to a consistent position here. Either marijuana consumption is fine or it’s not. It shouldn’t be a completely legal act…until you want to purchase a firearm. That’s not how our Second Amendment rights work. That’s not how any rights work.

It’s well past time to fix this mess.