Firearms dealers in states that regulate medical marijuana can't sell guns or ammunition to registered users of the drug, a policy that marijuana and gun-rights groups say denies Second Amendment rights to individuals who are following state law.
It's already illegal under federal law for someone to possess guns if he or she is "an unlawful user of, or addicted to" marijuana or other controlled substances. A Sept. 21 letter from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, issued in response to numerous inquiries from gun dealers, clarifies that medical marijuana patients are included in that definition.
Last week's letter also says that licensed dealers can't sell a gun or ammunition if they have "reasonable cause to believe" the buyer is using a controlled substance.
Pro-marijuana and gun groups said the policy clarification amounts to rescinding the gun rights for the thousands of people who are registered in the 16 states that have medical marijuana laws.
Besides that, the government is putting an additional burden on gun dealers to police their customers, said Montana Shooting Sports Association Gary Marbut.
"Their business is to be merchants, not to be cops. Unfortunately, the federal licensing scheme complicates that," Marbut said. "It sounds as if the (ATF) is expecting them to drift further into the cop role."