Update on Gun Rights for Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Cardholders
Oklahoma is proving itself one of the most solid 2nd Amendment states. This year, legislators are redoubling their efforts to ensure that the gun rights of medical marijuana (MMJ) cardholders will not be infringed upon.
In an article earlier this year, Elevate reported the state of gun rights for Oklahomans that possess MMJ cards. The main takeaway was that the State of Oklahoma is going to protect the gun rights of cardholders — that you would not be asked if you own a gun when applying for a medical cannabis card, and that the databases for gun owners and MMJ patients would be completely separate.
The only gray area that remained, and still remains to an extent, is when an MMJ cardholder goes to purchase from an FFL (federal firearms license gun dealer). We’ll elaborate on that a little farther down the page.
First, a look at what the new bill would do.
SB959 — Senate Unanimously Passes Bill to Protect MMJ Gun Rights
At the very end of February, the Oklahoma state senate voted 42-0 to pass Senate Bill 959. The unanimously supported bill prohibits the state from denying a concealed carry firearms permit to medical marijuana users despite ongoing federal cannabis prohibition.
Last year in a portion of the successfully enacted Unity Bill, the state vowed that “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.”
If enacted, SB959 will clarify the rules for concealed carry permit holders. The bill was sent to the House in March and is still in progress.
Oklahomans are not required to have a license to carry a concealed firearm. The state enacted “constitutional carry” in 2019. However, Oklahoma residents will need to apply for a concealed carry permit if they want to take advantage of CCDW reciprocity in other states.
SB959 aims to ensure that MMJ cardholders will not be denied solely because they choose medical cannabis.
If You Own a Gun …
Along with the language of the Unity Bill, SB959 will remove the state and local enforcement arm of the federal law as it applies to medical marijuana users in Oklahoma.
As we reported in our original article, the ATF has said that it will not waste its time and resources to investigate MMJ cardholders who may be violating the law on a federal level by also possessing a gun.
The federal government seems to have no interest in wasting resources to police such matters inside state jurisdictions.
However, there is one area where they do retain some leverage — with FLLs.
If You Want to Purchase a Firearm …
For all the protective laws that the state is enacting, the elephant in the room that remains is that question on the Firearms Transaction Record form 4473.
Question 11(e) asks prospective gun purchasers if they are unlawfully using any controlled substances. You may think you can answer “No” because marijuana is legal in your state. But this statement immediately follows in bold:
“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.”
So what happens if you answer honestly? The FFL is not supposed to sell you a gun. Does that mean they won’t? It depends.
An FFL simply files this paperwork and has to keep it on hand for 20 years (after that they hand it over to the ATF) in case the ATF should ever request the transaction information. That means your paperwork is not submitted to the federal government, but that the dealer has to keep it on hand for any federal inquiries.
When the FFL runs your background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), they will not be able to tell if you are a MMJ cardholder. The Oklahoma MMJ patient database is not shared with the NICS.
So, while federal law enforcement will not be checking your answer to this question when you apply (it’s likely they never will), however you answer, either you or the FFL dealer are committing a crime if you are an MMJ cardholder.
If you lie, it’s a federal crime of perjury. If you tell the truth and the dealer sells to you anyway, they could lose their license or worse.
We can all see the ways around this. In the case of an MMJ cardholder purchasing from an FFL, someone is going to need to lie — either the purchaser or the dealer. Or, patients will have to come by firearms some other way.
We are, of course, in no way suggesting any of these options. We just think it’s important to know that the federal government still has this one little claw in Oklahoma MMJ cardholders.
Local and state police are not going to come after you for purchasing a gun based on your MMJ cardholder status alone. And the ATF is not wasting resources on policing such matters. However, if you are ever federally investigated, it could still be punishable under federal law. For that matter, so can purchasing and using marijuana that is legal in your state.
We think it should be part of the discussion so that people know the whole picture.
If you're ready to make the move to become a legal cannabis cardholder click this link to get the process started