While marijuana possession is now legal in small amounts for adults in Virginia, the drug is still illegal under federal law. Further, it’s illegal to own a firearm if you use marijuana or a number of other drugs.
One of the questions people are required to answer on their application for a firearm is about drug use. Specifically, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) form asks, “Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?”
That can be confusing for those who consider themselves lawful marijuana users. However, the form also states, “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.”
Lying on the form is a felony under federal law. One ATF agent notes, “Until marijuana is legalized federally, firearms owners and possessors should be mindful that it remains federally illegal to mix marijuana with firearms and ammunition.” He adds that choice is clear: “You tell the truth and you might not be able to buy a firearm or you lie and commit a felony.”
Mother of Virginia child accused of shooting his teacher could be sentenced to 2 years behind bars
It can be a difficult law to enforce, and rarely is. Generally, someone has to be found in possession of a gun and drugs. When the gun is used in an alleged crime, the owner is also going to come under scrutiny.
That’s what happened with the mother of the 6-year-old Newport News boy who’s accused of shooting his teacher in January. She recently pleaded guilty to not disclosing her marijuana use when she purchased the weapon last year. Prosecutors are seeking an 18-to-24-month prison term for her when she’s sentenced in the fall.
Laws on marijuana are nothing if not confusing in this country. Nonetheless, lying on any kind of government form where you’re attesting that your answers are truthful and accurate can result in serious consequences – especially when that form is used to obtain a firearm. If you’re facing charges, it’s crucial to protect your rights and work to lessen the consequences. Having experienced legal guidance can help.