Watch Out For New Form 4473
Because several states have approved marijuana for medicinal or recreational use, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has decided to tweak its Form 4473 to address the issue. Form 4473 is the form that must be filled out when a person purchases a firearm from a Federal Firearms License (FFL) holder (such as a gun shop). Beginning January 16, 2017, all purchasers must complete the new, revised form. After that date, any older version of the form will be rejected.
One of the revisions to the form concerns Question 11.e., regarding the use of marijuana and other drugs. The federal government still outlaws marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance and, therefore, the new form contains a warning that reads as follows:
11.e. Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug or any other controlled substance? 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.
So, if you answer “Yes” to Question 11.e., you will be prohibited from buying a firearm from a licensed dealer. And making a false statement on the form is a felony.
The ATF could receive access to the information in a medical marijuana user database with nothing more than a subpoena, as happened in Oregon when federal agents were able to obtain the records of dozens of medical marijuana users. Under current regulations, law enforcement can’t access the entire medical marijuana registry to cross reference it with gun registries and concealed handgun permits, but agencies do have the ability to search on a case-by-case basis to see who may or may not have concealed handgun licenses or permits in the state.
U.S. Law Shield of Colorado Independent Program Attorney Doug Richards said, “While the state marijuana laws in Colorado have changed, the Federal laws have not and still list marijuana as a controlled substance. Therefore, marijuana is still banned under federal law.
“The effect of this federal prohibition extends beyond whether you can lawfully possess marijuana, but to many other aspects of our lives. The changes to ATF Form 4473 question 11(e), for example, reflect the current conflict between state and federal law, and leave firearms owners in an uncomfortable position.”
If you use marijuana medically, what should you do if confronted with this question when purchasing a gun?
“The only clear answer I can provide is that you should never lie on question 11(e),” Richards said. “When I was a federal prosecutor, I used false answers on this form as a basis for criminal charges. The consequences for providing false information are significant.”
This is a worrisome prospect, going far beyond smoking pot. I don’t like that the government can just roll back medical-privacy laws.