Senate Bill Would Allow Medical Marijuana Users To Own Guns - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Senate Bill Would Allow Medical Marijuana Users To Own Guns

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The Nevada Legislature is looking at several bills regarding marijuana and firearms. Senate Bill 351 does both. 

If passed, the bill would allow users of medicinal marijuana to purchase or possess a firearm. That is prohibited under current state law.

"People have come to me and said 'This isn't fair. Can you guys at least hear us out?' So, it's an opportunity to hear folks out and see where we need to go with it," Sen. Kelvin Atkinson, D-North Las Vegas said.

Atkinson is the sponsor of the bill.  He says as marijuana laws continue to evolve, the drug should be viewed differently when it comes to purchasing guns.

"You look at everything else an individual can be on, including alcohol and everything else and it's not an immediate disqualifier," Atkinson said. "I think it should be looked at and it shouldn't be an immediate disqualifier for individuals who are responsibly or responsible or even taking it medically."

While the bill would change Nevada law, it would contradict federal law. If it passes, gun dealers say it would not change how they conduct business because they are regulated by the federal government.

"That law doesn't change the guidelines that we're bound by, which is federal guidelines," Jay Hawkins, Training and Compliance Manager at Reno Guns & Range said. "All that law would change is the possession."

That means owning a gun and buying one could be two completely different situations.  Anyone who buys a gun from a licensed dealer has to fill out ATF Form 4473. Section E asks "Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?" 

"Currently, under federal law, anyone who is using a marijuana or any controlled substance is considered a prohibitive person," Hawkins said.

Atkinson says finding a balance between state and federal law could be a sticking point of the bill.

"Absolutely, it is and so we're going to have to see that and see how it comports to that but, obviously, that will be a challenge," Atkinson said.

Atkinson says the bill only addresses medical marijuana, partly because users have a card or prescription for the drug, while it is harder to know if someone is using pot, recreationally.

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