Press Release  | 10/06/2011

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Says Medical Marijuana Patients Are Prohibited From Owning Guns

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Policy Impacts Roughly One Million Americans in 16 States (and the District of Columbia) that Allow Medical Marijuana

Statement from Ethan Nadelmann: ATF Discrimination Against Legal Medical Marijuana Patients Is Outrageous

Last month the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives sent a letter to gun sellers saying it is illegal for medical marijuana patients to own firearms. The letter from Assistant Director Arthur Herbert states, "Any person who uses or is addicted to marijuana, regardless of whether his or her state has passed legislation authorizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes, is prohibited by Federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition."

Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, issued this statement:

"ATF's blatant discrimination against Americans whose use marijuana legally under state law is outrageous. It's not just that ATF is riding roughshod over the rights of citizens who use marijuana legally with a doctors' recommendation and thumbing its nose at laws enacted by sixteen states.  It's that there's absolutely no evidence whatsoever that use of marijuana – whether for medical purposes or otherwise – is linked to reckless use of guns.

"President Obama made clear, both before and after he was elected, his opposition to aggressive federal interference against medical marijuana patients in states that had legalized marijuana for medical purposes.  ATF's new letter contradicts and undermines Barack Obama's commitment – while presenting no evidence or rationale for this directive.  There should be zero tolerance for this sort of discrimination by the federal government."

Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Tommy McDonald 510-229-5215

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