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Marijuana users still cannot purchase a gun in Virginia

Recreational Marijuana
Posted at 9:56 PM, Jul 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-18 17:33:17-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Although the recreational use of marijuana became legal in Virginia on July 1 and it is legal to possess a firearm, Virginians cannot do both.

"If I smell it, I know that you’re using, it’s my decision not to sell it to you," said Gene Landry, owner of Old Town Silver Exchange in Henrico.

Outside the pawnshop, there's a sign in front of the door that reads, "if you smell of Marijuana or Alcohol, we will not sell you a firearm."

Landry said he put up the signs up back in the spring but had noticed more confusion since marijuana became legal in the state.

"As of July 1, everybody thinks it’s OK. They’re like, 'Oh no, it’s legal. You can do that.' Well, it’s really not," said Landry. "It’s still federal law. You cannot purchase a firearm if you smell like marijuana or alcohol."

That wasn't just the case for those trying to purchase a gun while under the influence of marijuana. Those in possession of it were still prohibited from purchasing a firearm under federal law as well.

"If you choose that you want to partake in marijuana, then firearms are out of the question for you," said Sean Banks, CEO of Virginia Tactical Shooting Academy.

Banks said those looking to purchase a firearm need to fill out a federal form from ATF.

The form asks if you are an unlawful user or are addicted to marijuana, then goes on to warn that the use or possession of the drug remains unlawful under federal law regardless of whether it's legalized in the state.

"If they answer that question that they do or would like to, then we legally can't sell them a firearm," said Banks. "Whether being that it's legal in the state of Virginia, that has no bearing on federal statutes."

Banks said this was also the case for medical marijuana cardholders as well, saying they have had to turn customers away because of it.

"You cannot or no longer possess a firearm or buy a firearm if you choose recreational or medical marijuana. And believe it or not, you know, even to that effect, we've even had some denials because of that. And so, we try to remind people and educate people."

He said that means that current or potential gun owners and marijuana users would need to make a choice.

"There are some who use marijuana, you know, for the benefits, whether it's medical or anxiety-related or stress-related or anything like that," Banks said. "And there are those, like myself, who would rather retain the right to protect myself and my family, you know? So, it's really up to the individual."