Updated post accessible here: https://elevate-holistics.com/blog/post/updated-guns-laws-for-medical-marijuana-patients-in-oklahoma
The point of having legal medical marijuana is so that cannabis can be treated and used as a prescription med, and so that people have access to it as such. But the federal government does not yet see it that way, which can make gun ownership in states where medical marijuana and recreational cannabis are legal difficulties.
But not so much in Oklahoma.
It’s clear that like most 2nd Amendment states that have marijuana programs, the state and the federal government have a different view on where to lay down the law. Oklahoma took immediate legislative action once medical marijuana passed to protect its citizens who wished to possess, carry, or purchase firearms. But what does it mean when the state and the federal government don’t see eye to eye on a law? We’re going to lay it out for you in this article, so you can be fully informed about having an MMJ card and owning/purchasing/carrying a gun in Oklahoma.
The Land of Federal Law—Where Marijuana Is Still a Schedule I Substance
In 2011, the ATF sent an open letter to gun dealers in the U.S. to set the record straight about controlled substances and firearms. At the time, when several states had already legalized medical marijuana, the question of how to reconcile these two rights in legalized states was all ablaze.
The ATF made it clear: Marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance (according to the federal government), and no person who uses it (medically or otherwise) may buy or possess a firearm. The ATF forbade gun sellers from selling firearms to known licensed medical marijuana patients. Federal law has not changed since that letter, and therefore, it is technically not legal for Oklahoma (or any state’s) medical marijuana patients to possess or buy firearms.
Gun dealers obviously are not itching to follow this directive. But it’s similar to the situation with casinos in Las Vegas when cannabis became recreationally legal in Nevada. Because they are regulated by the federal government and must comply with federal laws, casinos can’t allow guests to use cannabis on-premises. It is the same with gun dealers who are licensed by the federal government.
Oklahoma’s Steadfast Stance
When medical marijuana was approved in Oklahoma, people who wanted to conceal carry a gun still had to have a Self-Defense Act license. Because of the federal government’s stance on marijuana and gun ownership, many people who would be in both databases became very nervous.
Oklahoma Legislature answered right away by passing the Unity Bill that was signed into law on March 14, 2019. The law states:
“A medical marijuana patient or caregiver licensee shall not be denied the right to own, purchase or possess a firearm, ammunition, or firearm accessories based solely on his or her status as a medical marijuana patient or caregiver licensee.”
Additionally, in November 2019, Oklahoma became a constitutional carry state, which means that in order to carry a gun, concealed or unconcealed, you only need to be 21 years old or at least 18 and in the military—barring they are not otherwise disqualified.
So, what does this come down to for cardholders who own or want to purchase a firearm in Oklahoma?
If You Already Own a Gun in Oklahoma
No one is going to ask you at the time that you apply for your medical marijuana card if you own a firearm. The databases maintained for medical marijuana and the Self-Defense Act licensees are completely separate. The MMJ database is overseen by state health department officials who do not upload information to the criminal background system (NICS), which is what the federal government uses to run background checks.
The ATF has said that it will not waste its time and resources to turn its focus from gun trafficking and violent crime to investigate individuals who may be violating this law. But that doesn’t mean it’s a free pass for anyone involved in a federal crime.
Also, you still have to decide how to answer when you go to purchase a gun at a federally licensed gun dealer.
If You Want to Buy a Gun in Oklahoma
Having an Oklahoma medical marijuana card is grounds for a gun dealer to deny a gun purchase application. To complete the transaction, you must fill out a six-page application that asks you straight out if you use marijuana. It also gives a warning that it does not matter if you are in a decriminalized or MMJ state. If you answer “yes”, you are automatically denied. If you say “no”, and you are a qualified patient, it is a federal crime.
However, what you choose to disclose on a background check is up to you. Oklahoma has your back on these issues. It’s in a federal situation where your answer could count.
Keeping Oklahoma Cannabis Patients Informed
At Elevate Holistics, we want medical marijuana cardholders to understand their right to access medicinal cannabis and the scope of all that comes along with it. If you own a firearm and are a qualifying patient, you should be aware that technically you are in violation of federal law. But also know that in Oklahoma, legislation has been enacted to protect these rights within the jurisdiction of the state. No one is going to come to check on you. Still, technically you (and all medical marijuana patients in all the states) are also in violation of federal law for possessing and using cannabis. It’s simply that the federal government has chosen not to challenge states on their decisions regarding marijuana laws. It seems that aside from organized crime, federal law enforcement chooses not to police state populations.
It’s likely that until the federal government can relinquish its obstinate assertion that cannabis is a Schedule I drug with no medical value, having a medical marijuana card will continue to put cardholders in an awkward situation when they go to purchase a gun.
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