The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) warned in a Tuesday advisory that Minnesota residents who use marijuana cannot legally own firearms despite the recent legalization of cannabis for recreational use.
According to the St. Paul ATF office, because marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, people who smoke weed or take marijuana edibles are "still federally defined as an 'unlawful user' of a controlled substance," and are therefore "prohibited from shipping, transporting, receiving, or possessing firearms or ammunition."
"Until marijuana is legalized federally, firearms owners and possessors should be mindful that it remains federally illegal to mix marijuana with firearms and ammunition," said ATF acting special agent in charge of the of the St. Paul field division, Jeff Reed.
That warning from the ATF is concerning for Second Amendment rights advocate Rob Doar, vice president of the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus. He said he's long been aware of the state-and-federal cannabis contradiction, whether it's for medical or recreational use.
Doar urges gun owners to be aware of the risks, even though under Minnesota's new law, sheriffs cannot deny someone a permit to carry solely because they are enrolled in the medical cannabis program or are an adult using marijuana. -CBS News
"I think if [the ATF agents] weren't planning on enforcing it, they may have just let it go and it would kind of be a wink-wink, nudge-nudge that yes it's illegal, but much like other federal cannabis prohibitions, we're not going to be enforcing it," said Doar, adding "The fact that they sent out the notice is cause for some raised eyebrows."
Cannabis attorney Jason Tarasek of Vincente LLP says that the federal government has typically turned a blind eye and has "left states alone" when it comes to those which have legalized marijuana, but now "It's an interesting song and dance we're going through with the federal government."
Doar and Tarasek would like clarification from the feds.
"It would be great to get some clearer guidance from the federal government that would make people in legal markets more comfortable that they don't need to be worried about the federal government knocking at their door," said Tarasek.
During the Obama years, the DOJ issued guidance advising that they wouldn't interfere in states that had legalized marijuana as long as it didn't interfere with federal law enforcement priorities. It was rescinded by former US Attorney General Jeff Sessions during the Trump administration.
Read the ATF letter below: