PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — If South Dakota voters approve proposed Constitutional Amendment A that would legalize recreational marijuana for people age 21 and older, or Initiated Measure 26 that would legalize medical marijuana, South Dakota’s would-be gun buyers could find themselves in a legal jam.
That’s because one of the questions the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives asks on its firearms transaction record is, “Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?”
The form goes on to note, “Warning: 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.”
KELOLAND News asked several leaders for the pro-marijuana side about it. Drey Samuelson said he had to do some quick digging.
“Amendment A and Measure 26 make no changes to gun laws in South Dakota. This is a federal issue that affects all states,” Samuelson replied. “As is the case in all 34 states that have legalized medical marijuana and in the 11 states that have legalized marijuana for adults, state policies do not change the fact that marijuana remains illegal under federal law.”
Samuelson, who was chief of staff to now-retired U.S. Senator Tim Johnson throughout his 28 years in Congress, continued, “Any American who uses marijuana in any state — whether or not it is legal under state law — is technically a criminal under federal law. That is unjust and, frankly, ridiculous.”
The two marijuana measures are supported by two former U.S. attorneys for the district of South Dakota, Brendan Johnson and Randy Seiler. Johnson, a son of the former senator, led the drive for signatures to get the amendment on the ballot, while Seiler chairs the South Dakota Democratic Party.
Amendment A would put the recreational-use language in the South Dakota Constitution and make it beyond the reach of the Legislature. Lawmakers however could repeal the medical-marijuana law.
Said Samuelson, “The best way to fix this problem is to pass Amendment A and Measure 26 this year. Doing so will maximize protections for gun owners in South Dakota and increase pressure on Congress to change federal law so that our government fully respects the gun rights of medical marijuana patients and adults who legally use marijuana.”
He added, “Our campaign firmly believes that no American should be forced to choose between the right to use marijuana and the right to bear arms.”