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Specifically I'm referring to the NICS background check for buying a gun, but if other laws have other standards I'm interested in them as well.

If I took one puff off a marijuana cigarette at a concert 10 years ago, am I user? What if that concert was yesterday instead?

If I smoked habitually 10 years ago, but haven't had a puff since, am I a user?

I know practically it would usually be impossible to prove someone took one puff a decade ago, but that doesn't change the legality of marking "No" on that question on the NICS check.

I ask because NY just legalized recreational marijuana, but the Feds still haven't, so many New Yorkers may be unwittingly lying when buying guns.

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    Similar issues have been litigated. For example, having a medical marijuana card disqualifies you from purchasing a firearm under relevant case law. The exact line between who is and isn't a user is probably a matter of case law and in close cases, judicial findings of fact based on case specific evidence and a judge's discretion.
    – ohwilleke
    Apr 16, 2021 at 23:28

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The NICS background check does not require an applicant to reveal non-recent drug use.

The relevant parts of the ATF Firearms Transaction Record, form 5300.9 at Section B, 21e, asks:

Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?

Swiftly followed by:

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.

The form goes on to say under the heading of Notices, Instructions and Definitions:

Prohibited Persons:

... is an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, or narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance...

If I smoked habitually 10 years ago, but haven't had a puff since, am I a user?

  • No, not in this context. Note that 21e, the warning notice and the definition all use the present tense, not past, verb formations.
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    This doesn't really answer my question. I'm aware the form uses the present tense but the form is unclear when the cut-off for present is. When does drug use stop being "present" and become "past"? A day ago? A month ago? A year ago? And remember, this is the agency that says shoelaces are machine guns. external-preview.redd.it/…
    – Ryan_L
    Apr 30, 2021 at 16:24
  • @RyanL The law is frequently not as clear as you would like it to be.
    – ohwilleke
    Jan 4, 2022 at 1:41
  • @Ryan_L for the record, shoelaces are no longer machine guns unless they are actually attached to a gun,that they are currently making capable of automatic fire. Jul 10, 2023 at 19:03

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