The Oklahoma state Senate voted on Wednesday to approve a bill that would protect the right to own a firearm for medical marijuana patients. The measure, Senate Bill 959, was approved by a unanimous vote by the full Senate and will now head to the Oklahoma House of Representatives for consideration.
The bill, which was drafted by Republican state Sen. Nathan Dahm, would make it so qualified applicants could not be denied a concealed handgun permit solely because of their status as a registered medical marijuana patient. Under the state’s Self Defense Act, a concealed handgun permit can be denied to any person with a violation related to the use or possession of illegal drugs. SB 959 clarifies that the provision does not apply to those who hold a valid medical marijuana identification card from the state.
Under its interpretation of the Self Defense Act, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) has routinely denied concealed handgun permits to those who disclose that they have a medical marijuana card because of the continuing federal prohibition of cannabis. Failure to make such disclosure is a felony under federal law.
“You basically have to choose one or the other,” said Jordan Solorzano with the OSBI. “It is then inferred that you are a user of a controlled substance, federally marijuana is listed as a Schedule I controlled substance.”
State Cops Should Respect State Law
But Dahm said that the OSBI should respect state law and that the agency is protected from federal interference if it does.
“OSBI is a state agency and the federal government cannot force a state employee or a state agency to implement federal law,” he said.
Before Wednesday’s vote, Dahm said that medical marijuana patients should not have to choose between their Second Amendment rights and their medicine of choice.
“Our Second Amendment rights outlined in the United States Constitution are very clear—the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed,” Dahm said in a press release after the bill was approved. “We cannot discriminate against medical marijuana cardholders because of their personal medicinal decisions. All Oklahomans should have their Second Amendment rights protected, and I’m glad my colleagues agree that we must uphold the Constitution.”
As a “Constitutional carry” state, Oklahoma does not require adults to obtain a permit to carry a concealed handgun. However, the state still issues permits for those who may wish to carry a firearm in other states that have a reciprocity agreement.
Just because medical marijuana patients would be allowed to obtain a permit to carry a concealed handgun, it doesn’t mean they’d be able to do so while high. SB 959 would also “make it illegal for a person to carry or use a gun while under the influence of medical marijuana,” according to the release from Dahm.