I-Team: Guns legal, marijuana legal, but not together

LAS VEGAS - Medical and recreational marijuana use are legal and the Second Amendment allows the ownership of guns, but try doing both and it's against federal law.

Want to buy a gun? You have to pass a background check and there's one question which could be considered tricky, according to Brandon Burns, the operations manager at Spartan Arms.

"Are you an unlawful user or addicted to marijuana or any depressants, stimulants, narcotics, drugs or any controlled substance?" 

Marijuana is legal medicinally and recreationally in Nevada, but there's a warning.

"The use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medical, or recreational purposes in the state of where you reside," Burns said.

Even if someone uses marijuana legally, they can't buy a gun.

"Even though the state says it's okay, the federal trumps the state. Therefore, we would have to deny a sale," Burns said.

By the end of 2016, there were more than 25,000 medical marijuana cardholders in the state and recreational marijuana use became legal on Jan. 1.

"If you use it, own it, have a card, you're denied right off the bat," Burns said.

If a customer doesn't admit they use marijuana recreationally or medicinally, verbally or on this form, there's no official way for gun sellers to know.

"To the best of my knowledge, background checks haven't caught it," Burns said.

According to the division of behavioral and public health which runs the patient registry in Nevada, the list of medical marijuana patients is not available to law enforcement.

One man who asked not to be identified and describes himself as a former medical marijuana patient and longtime NRA member believes a lot of people lie on the form.

Reporter Vanessa Murphy: "So, there was a point you were using the medical marijuana and you owned firearms?" 

Unidentified man: "Yes."

Reporter Vanessa Murphy: "Did you know that was illegal?"

Unidentified man: "I knew enough that it was illegal, but I never put them in the same place. So, when I had medical cannabis in my possession, I never had firearms or ammunition in the house."

He says he gave up medical marijuana and shipped his firearms to be stored out of state -- in part -- because of the conflicting laws.

Reporter Vanessa Murphy: "Do you miss using marijuana?"

Unidentified man: "I do. A great deal."

Turns out he works in a southern Nevada medical marijuana facility.

"I made the conscious decision to just try to be as legitimate as I could," the man told the I-Team.

In 2011, the ATF issued an open letter to all federal firearms licensees stating even if the buyer answers no they don't use marijuana -- if the seller has reasonable cause to believe they do -- the sale of firearms or ammunition shouldn't happen.

"No salesman really wants to turn their customer down," Burns said. "We understand that, but we have to think of the bigger picture here. You know one sale versus losing our whole license is not worth it."

According to federal law, anyone charged for mixing guns with drugs like marijuana could face 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

A U.S. Appeals Court upheld the ban on guns for medical marijuana patients last year after a lawsuit filed by a Nevada woman.

She said she tried to buy a gun but was denied because she had a medical marijuana card.
and on Thursday, the Trump administration announced there could be more enforcement against recreational marijuana but it's unclear what that may entail.
 


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