In the wake of more states legalizing cannabis, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has updated the form required to purchase a firearm to explicitly point out that cannabis is illegal under federal law, regardless of what individual states have done.
Up until this point, Form 4473 has asked, “Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?” This has led to much confusion among those who live in states where cannabis is legal; they are technically a “lawful” user of cannabis under state law, but under federal law they are an “unlawful” user, as this question asks. The ATF seeks to clarify this confusion with its recent change.
Beginning January 16th, Form 4473 will be altered to include the following warning:
“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.”
Although many in states with legal cannabis will disregard this warning and will answer “No” to the question, there is reason to take caution; although it’s not typically prosecuted, lying on Form 4473 is a felony.