ATF Warns Minnesota’s Recreational Cannabis Users About Gun Ownership

Washington, DC – The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) has issued a cautionary statement regarding the intersection of gun ownership and marijuana use. Following the recent legalization of recreational cannabis in Minnesota, the ATF reminded Minnesotans that federal law still prohibits anyone defined as an “unlawful user” of a controlled substance, including cannabis, from possessing firearms or ammunition.

Despite Minnesota’s new law, the ATF’s St. Paul Field Division felt it necessary to highlight that current cannabis users are still defined as “unlawful users” of a controlled substance under federal law.

“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 Acting Special Agent in Charge Jeff Reed.

The agency referenced the Federal Gun Control Act of 1968, which expressly prohibits unlawful users of any controlled substance from shipping, transporting, receiving, or possessing firearms or ammunition.

This law is further supported by the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, where cannabis is classified as a Schedule I drug, placing it in the same category as substances like heroin and LSD. The act makes no exception for medical or recreational cannabis use.

Form 4473 line 11 E
Form 4473 line 11 E

Anyone in Minnesota wishing to purchase firearms is required to admit if they are an unlawful user of cannabis on ATF Form 4473 during the transaction.

The ATF issued an open letter to Federal Firearms Licensees in 2011, providing guidance as states began easing restrictions on cannabis. The guidance clarifies that it is unlawful for gun shops to transfer a firearm to any person if there’s reasonable cause to believe that the person is an unlawful user of a controlled substance.

This clarification will impact the process of firearms transactions, as having a card permitting the use and possession of cannabis forces a firearms licensee to assume “reasonable cause to believe” the person is an unlawful user of a controlled substance.

The ATF’s clarifications and having to make a choice between effective medical treatment and personal self-defense underscores the often complex legal territory where state and federal laws intersect, as is the case with marijuana legislation. While Minnesota’s easing of marijuana restrictions reflects a growing national trend, this guidance serves as a reminder that federal law maintains its own set of rules and penalties.

Medical cannabis users can now be added to the long list of U.S. citizens that should support the repeal of the Federal Gun Control Act of 1968.

For more helpful information about the ATF and its role in the regulation of firearms, refer to their official website at You can also follow their Twitter handle, @ATFStPaul, for the latest news and updates in Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota, and North Dakota.

By Fred Riehl and AI tools. Note: This article was generated using AI technology and may contain some automated content aggregation and analysis.