Montana legal marijuana users can't lawfully own guns

(Glen Stubbe/Star Tribune via AP, File)

Marijuana became legal in the state of Montana just a few weeks ago, on New Year’s Day.

For a lot of people, that’s big. However, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. After all, while you can lawfully use pot, you have to give up a little something to do so.

Namely, your ability to lawfully own firearms.

While marijuana became legal for adults to purchase in Montana on New Year’s Day, a key federal agency has confirmed a fact underreported in coverage of the state’s new marijuana program: It remains illegal under federal law for individuals to simultaneously possess marijuana or marijuana products and firearms, and penalties for violating that law are severe.

The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives confirmed the policy to Montana Free Press last week, noting that the federal Gun Control Act prohibits a person who possesses a controlled substance from possessing a firearm or ammunition. Cannabis is currently recognized as a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance.

“The Gun Control Act (GCA) prohibits a person who uses a controlled substance from possessing a firearm or ammunition,” ATF Public [sic]

Now, it should be noted that the Drug Enforcement Agency is responsible for determining which drugs go into which schedule. With marijuana being legal to some degree in so many places, it would make sense to at least change pot to a schedule 2 controlled substance.

Not that it will help.

You see, more properly, what the ATF should have noted is that unlawful users of controlled substances aren’t able to possess firearms. Because of federal law, marijuana use of any kind is considered unlawful, even with a prescription.

But even if it was downgraded to a schedule 2, it would still mean that recreational use would bar someone from lawfully owning guns.

What’s clearly needed here is something that we’re not likely to see. What we need is for federal law to step in and mandate that so long as a drug is legal in that state, one doesn’t lose their Second Amendment rights for using it.

It’s unlikely that we’ll ever see heroin, meth, or anything like that be legalized. That’s probably going to be reserved for marijuana for the foreseeable future, so there shouldn’t be any issue from there. Plus, the states who might legalize the harder drugs are typically also states that do everything they can to prohibit firearm ownership, so that would be an irrelevant point.

We really need to see the federal government back off on this prohibition where people using a substance that’s lawful in their states, one the feds are doing nothing about, but are denied their constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms.

Besides, we’re talking about pot here. The only danger presented by these folks is to the snack aisle of the nearest curb store.

It’s well past time to fix this problem.

Unfortunately, Republicans are less likely to support pot laws and Democrats are unlikely to support anything that smells like it might be pro-gun. You’d think this could be something that would draw them together, but I just don’t see it happening.

Not for a while, at least, and that’s a shame.