Poll says voters prefer pot regulation at state level

Jeff Sessions
Attorney General Jeff Sessions plans to tighten up marijuana law enforcement, but a Rasmussen poll shows most voters want pot regulated at the state level.

A new Rasmussen survey released Thursday reveals that 56 percent of likely U.S. voters think marijuana should be regulated at the state level rather than by the feds, but there is one significant problem hiding in the weeds: Firearms.

According to the new Rasmussen Reports, only 29 percent of survey respondents believe that marijuana laws should be set at the federal level. Sixteen percent aren’t sure.

This comes days after Attorney General Jeff Sessions revealed plans to roll back a policy adopted by the Obama administration that eased federal enforcement of marijuana laws in states where pot has been legalized.

California recently legalized the use of recreational marijuana, and recreational pot is also sold in Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Nevada.

But because marijuana remains on the list of federal controlled substances, pot users still cannot possess firearms. Retail gun sales are prohibited to anyone who admits on the Federal Form 4473 that he/she is a pot smoker. There is a warning in bold type on the form that reads: “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.”

A check with the Seattle office of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives brought this response:

“The use of or the possession of marijuana – even in a state where it has been legalized or decriminalized – remains unlawful under Federal law. Marijuana is listed in the Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule I controlled substance under 21 U.S.C. § 812(c)(10). There are no exceptions in federal law for marijuana used for medicinal or recreational purposes.”

“Accordingly,” the ATF said, “as a matter of federal law, anyone who is a current user of marijuana, regardless of whether his or her state has passed legislation purporting to authorize marijuana use for medical or recreational purposes, and regardless of whether he or she possesses a state-issued marijuana card, is considered an ‘unlawful user’ under 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(3).

“The Gun Control Act prohibits any person who is ‘an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance (as defined in section 102 or the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802))’ from shipping, transporting, receiving or possessing firearms or ammunition under Federal law, 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(3).”

According to Rasmussen, 49 percent of likely voters polled last November favor the legalization of marijuana for recreational use, but 38 percent do not.

It’s not just guns. There may also be problems with cars. According to the Denver Post, “The number of drivers involved in fatal crashes in Colorado who tested positive for marijuana has risen sharply each year since 2013, more than doubling in that time, federal and state data show.”

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The newspaper analyzed data and coroner reports and found that “Increasingly potent levels of marijuana were found in positive-testing drivers who died in crashes in Front Range counties.” That was based on data dating back to 2013.

How the debate eventually settles out is speculation at this point. What is clear, however, is that the federal gun law hasn’t changed, and lying about pot use on the 4473 form is a felony.