Federal law contradicts new MN state law when it comes to marijuana and gun permits

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(ABC 6 News) – Alarms are being raised from law enforcement officials as Minnesota joins a growing list of states legalizing marijuana, particularly when it comes to issuing gun permits.

It stems down to new regulations concerning people who have prior, low-level convictions of cannabis use.

According to the new state law, low-level offenses are not supposed to play a factor in whether or not someone is issued a gun permit, however, federal law says otherwise.

“Misinformation at any level creates issues and frustrations with people,” said Gerald Schoenmann, the owner of American Gunsmith & Gun Shop.

In Olmsted County, Sheriff Kevin Torgerson says his department is following federal regulations, which states that marijuana is still a federal controlled substance. Therefore, if you apply for a gun permit with prior marijuana convictions, you will most likely be denied.

“Do I want to get arrested by the federal government or by the state of Minnesota?” said Sheriff Torgerson.

Sheriff Torgerson says impairment, whether it is for marijuana convictions or even certain alcohol offenses, revokes your privileges of owning a gun.

“For whatever reason, if they’ve been arrested for something and marijuana was a part of that arrest, why should I issue that permit?” said Sheriff Torgerson. “But, they’re telling us we shouldn’t consider that and that’s a contradiction to me. I think the bulk of our public is going to understand that.”

Other people in the community, including gun-owners themselves, agree.

Some say in the wake of this last legislative session, people are more confused than ever.

“Law enforcement, they have no more guidance on this than civilians do,” said Schoenmann. “The confusion, I think, is because they pushed something through too fast and it was underthought.”

“misinformation at any level creates issues and frustrations with people

Whie courts are working towards expunging low-level offenses for marijuana convictions, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension estimates they will not be complete until “well into 2025”, according to Sheriff Torgerson.

As far as how to fix these contradictions between state and federal law, many say lawmakers need to revise and even repeal the new regulations, one that many in Minnesota see as unclear.