HELENA – Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock on Monday objected to a new federal policy that bans firearms dealers from selling guns or ammunition to medical marijuana cardholders and said working with states in advance would have been a better approach by the federal government.
In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Bullock challenged a recent announcement by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that notified firearms dealers nationwide that medical marijuana users are not exempt from a federal law, making it illegal for a drug user or addict to possess a gun or ammunition, even if they are participating in a state-sanctioned program such as Montana’s.
Currently, 16 states and Washington, D.C., have voter-approved medical marijuana laws, comprising more than 90 million people, or roughly 30 percent of the nation’s population. Bullock wrote that the federal government should act carefully “when its laws and policies involve conflicts with those of the states.”
“The ATF letter implicates serious legal issues under the Second Amendment, and the equal protection and due process clauses of the Fifth Amendment,” Bullock wrote. “In addition, the letter raises serious policy and practical concerns.”
Bullock tells Holder he is willing and prepared to work constructively with the U.S. Attorney General’s Office to explore “a reasonable solution to the problems created by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives letter.”
“By working creatively and cooperatively, I believe we can find an approach that works for the states that have authorized the use of marijuana for medical purposes,” Bullock wrote. A full text of Bullock’s letter can be found here. Audio clip