New Yorkers Now Face a Choice: Guns or Marijuana?

New York just legalized pot. But what does that mean for gun owners? (Photo: Andrew Cuomo Facebook)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed last week a bill legalizing recreational marijuana use, but the legislation doesn’t exempt pot smokers from federal statutes prohibiting gun ownership.

Now, New York residents face a choice: keep the joint or pack the heat.

The Gun Control Act of 1968 and the Federal Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act of 1997 prohibit anyone from possessing a gun who is an “unlawful user of or addicted to marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance.” Even though marijuana is now legal in New York State, it is still illegal under federal law. Therefore, anyone who uses marijuana would be considered an “unlawful user.”

As ATF Form 4473 helpfully explains, “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.”

SEE ALSO: Maryland Gun Owners Forced to Choose Between Firearms and Medical Marijuana

It will be difficult for federal law enforcement to know about a gun owner’s marijuana use if he/she does not admit to it and is never federally prosecuted for some other crime. But upstanding gun owners are still concerned about breaking federal law, and the resulting conundrum has prompted federal lawmakers to act.

West Virginia Rep. Alexander Mooney introduced the “Second Amendment Protection Act” in 2019 that would have allowed those who use marijuana for medical purposes to own firearms. The bill was referred to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, but it was never considered.

In 2016, the 9th Circuit Court ruled those federal laws that prohibit drug users from purchasing firearms still apply to medical marijuana users, even in states where marijuana use has been decriminalized for medical or recreational use. The court argued that there is a strong link between drug use, including marijuana use, and violence, and the federal ban is therefore justified.

SEE ALSO: Minnesota Lawmaker Looking to Reschedule Marijuana to Protect Gun Rights

For those less squeamish about breaking federal statutes, New York’s law does have one positive effect: medical marijuana users can now get marijuana without obtaining a special ID card.

States with a gun registry and a requirement to obtain medical marijuana cards have been known to cross-reference those lists and send threatening letters to gun owners who use medical marijuana.

In Hawaii, for example, the Honolulu Police Department issued in 2017 letters to approximately 30 gun owners and marijuana users demanding that they turn in their firearms. The HPD backed down from enforcing that policy, but it demonstrates how conflicting laws can make trouble for even the most law-abiding Americans.

New York’s new law allows any resident over 21 years old to obtain weed without registering for an ID, making weed easier to get in the state than constitutionally protected firearms.

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About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over four years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco. Follow him on Instagram @bornforgoodluck and email him at

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • TUC April 10, 2021, 9:02 am

    Like WOW man – BANG! – OH WOW MAN! I think I just shot my foot off, MAN, – OUCH MAN!!!

  • D.J. April 9, 2021, 3:09 pm

    ….. Well , what’s it gonna be ?

    Your DOPE , or your weapons ? Can’t have both !

    That Damned War (1861-65) ended that debate . Feds trump States .

    End of story .

  • Nick April 9, 2021, 10:18 am


  • krinkov545 April 9, 2021, 10:15 am

    Liberals are mentally unstable.

  • Kane April 9, 2021, 10:07 am

    If someone who uses marijuana fills out the 4473 and does NOT cop to their habit then they have perjured themselves. There is potential chance for some serious legal liability unless you are connected like Hunter Biden where the Secret Service will threaten anyone who gets in the way.

    In Illinois, if you have a FOID card then you better NOT let the people at the pot stores see anything that will indicate you own a firearm.

  • krinkov545 April 9, 2021, 10:00 am

    Typical commie Gotchya!

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