1.17.14 Advisory – Colorado Buds

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In this issue:
– Article: Good Buds Stick Together
– Orchid commentary: ATF Ruling 2013-5
– Download: Three best-practice whitepapers released this week
– Press Release: First and Only Firearms Compliance ERP Solution

Good Buds Stick Together

Friday, January 17th, 2014

In 2012 UFC Fighter Nick Diaz got into trouble with the Nevada Athletic Commission. The Stockton, California, based MMA Fighter had tested positive for marijuana metabolites in a post-fight drug test. Diaz had a prescription for medical marijuana by a California doctor, but marijuana was considered a controlled substance in Nevada, where the fight took place. The Nevada State Athletic Commission ended up with a suspension from fighting for a year and forfeited 30% of his purse from his fight with Carlos Condit. Diaz’s issue was that even though he had a prescription for medical marijuana, the drug was not legal for use in a state in which he fought.

A similar dilemma is brewing in the State of Colorado that could impact some of the state’s firearms owners.

In 2014 Colorado decriminalized the use of marijuana for its residents. In the Evergreen State marijuana is no longer considered an unlawful substance; however it is still a controlled substance at the federal level. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) issued a letter in 2011 that was very clear on the subject with reference to users of marijuana in various states where it was being decriminalized. The central point of this letter is as follows: “Marijuana is listed in the Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, and there are no exceptions in Federal law for marijuana purportedly used for medicinal purposes, even if such use is sanctioned by state law.”

The Federal Form 4473 which must be completed by potential purchasers of firearms specifically asks this in question 11(e): “Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant or narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?”

While it may be legal at the state level, this is a federal form and the ATF strongly holds that any use of marijuana is illegal. In the past the databases of users of medical marijuana were not released to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). 

Another wrinkle to this problem is that Colorado is the only state, which allows operators of a marijuana business to have firearms on the premises1. Marijuana stores in Colorado are forced to accept cash only due to a federal law prohibiting banks from engaging in business with known criminal enterprises. Once again the federal vs. state statute comes into play as the banks are refusing to do business with the marijuana based businesses. Other states such as Washington which, have similar marijuana laws to Colorado specifically prohibit firearms at such locations. Yet Colorado holds that the businesses might be at a higher risk for robbery due to the “all-cash” nature.


Orchid Advisors provides electronic newsletter (“Advisory and Alert”) and blogs for general informational purposes only. It should not be considered a formal or informal interpretation of law. It is not intended as professional counsel, should not be considered legal advice and should not be used as such.