OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (Feb. 27, 2020) – Yesterday, the Oklahoma Senate unanimously passed a bill prohibiting the state from denying a concealed carry firearms permit to medical marijuana users despite ongoing federal cannabis prohibition.
Sen. Nathan Dahm (R-Broken Arrow), along with two Republican cosponsors in the House, introduced Senate Bill 959 (SB959) on Feb. 4. Under the proposed law, a person in legal possession of a medical marijuana patient license could not be denied a concealed carry permit in the state solely on the basis of being a medical marijuana user.
“The right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed,” Dahm said in a statement. “We cannot discriminate against medical marijuana cardholders because of their personal medicinal decisions.”
Under an expansion of the state’s medical-marijuana program last year, “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.”
Enactment of SB959 would clarify the rules for concealed carry permit holders.
Oklahomans are not required to have a license to carry a concealed firearm. The state enacted “constitutional carry” last year. Oklahoma residents can still apply for a concealed carry permit if they want to take advantage of CCDW reciprocity in other states.
As Suzanne Sherman noted, the federal government has long claimed the power to restrict the right to keep and bear arms of medical marijuana patients:
If you purchase a firearm from an FFL, you will be presented with the Firearms Transaction Record form 4473, which you must, under penalty of perjury, answer fully and truthfully. You may see it for yourself HERE.
Question 11(c) asks prospective gun purchasers if they are unlawfully using any controlled substances. You think, “Hey, I can answer ‘no,’ as marijuana is now legal in my state. Immediately following the inquiry is the following admonition (in bold letters):
“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.”
Not surprisingly, in 2016, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of appeals ruled that this restriction does not violate the Second Amendment.
Most states have formally adopted this federal ban on owning firearms for medical marijuana users, or simply help in its enforcement. For instance, police in Hawaii sent letters to medical marijuana patients who owned guns telling them they had 30 days to surrender their weapons.
While laws protecting the right to keep and bear arms of medical marijuana patients do not overturn the federal Gun Control Act of 1968, they do remove the state and local enforcement arm of that unconstitutional act as it applies to medical marijuana users in Oklahoma.
While medical marijuana has become widely accepted across the U.S., the federal government still claims it is illegal. As we’ve seen with immigration sanctuary cities, when state and local enforcement ends, the federal government has an extremely difficult time enforcing their acts.
Under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970, the federal government maintains complete prohibition of marijuana. Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate marijuana within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.
Oklahoma’s medical marijuana program removes a layer of laws prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana, and the passage of HB2612 expands that, but federal prohibition remains in place.
FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By curtailing state prohibition, Oklahoma sweeps part of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.
Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly annual budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution either. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.
A GROWING MOVEMENT
Oklahoma joins a growing number of states simply ignoring federal prohibition, and nullifying it in practice.
Colorado, Washington state, Oregon and Alaska were the first states to legalize recreational cannabis, and California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts joined them after ballot initiatives in favor of legalization passed in November 2016. Michigan followed suit when voters legalized cannabis for general use in 2018. Vermont became the first state to legalize marijuana through a legislative act in 2018. Illinois followed suit in 2019.
With 33 states including allowing cannabis for medical use, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition anymore.
“The lesson here is pretty straightforward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations or mandates down our throats,” Tenth Amendment Center founder and executive director Michael Boldin said.
SB959 will now move to the House for further consideration. At the time of this report, it had not been referred to a House Committee. Once it receives a committee assignment, it must pass by a majority vote before moving forward in the legislative process.
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