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What to Know About Medical Cannabis and Gun Ownership

October 10, 2019 • Lakewood Medical • Uncategorized

Due to federal regulations, Ohio’s medical marijuana users cannot purchase guns. But if they already own one, the waters become murkier.

Even since Ohio approved the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes, thousands of Ohioans have received relief from the debilitating symptoms of serious conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, glaucoma, and inflammatory bowel disease. But despite the benefits of medical marijuana, there are legal questions that some patients may need to take into consideration. For example, does the use of medical marijuana conflict with gun ownership laws?

In fact, federal law effectively prohibits medical marijuana users from purchasing a firearm. Since federal law supersedes state law, Ohioans must adhere to federal regulations regarding gun purchases. Meanwhile, state law officials are grappling with the question of whether current gun owners can carry a concealed firearm and be approved for medical marijuana at the same time. 

What Federal Law Says

The federal government classifies marijuana as a Schedule I Controlled Substance. According to guidance handed down by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, applicants for a gun permit can be denied a permit if they are an “unlawful user or addicted to any controlled substance.” This ruling, says the Bureau, extends to those who have been approved for marijuana to treat a medical condition by the state.

The BATFE ruling indicates medical marijuana users in Ohio users should reconsider purchasing a firearm while undergoing therapy with cannabis. Though the state has approved medicinal marijuana, in the eyes of the federal government it remains categorized as a controlled substance. Consequently, applying for a gun permit while using medical marijuana would result in a denial. It should also be noted that lying a firearms background check is a felony. 

What if You Already Own a Gun?

About 600,000 Ohio residents currently hold a concealed carry permit. Under the state’s medical marijuana laws, only doctors have access to the names of approved cannabis users. Without knowledge of who has a prescribed medical marijuana card, state law enforcement officers would likely not confiscate a firearm from a person with a concealed carry permit or charge them with a crime simply for owning a gun.

On the other hand, if a medical marijuana user is suspected of driving under the influence and is found to possess cannabis at the time, the individual could be breaking the law. However, law enforcement officials are still seeking more clarification on the issue. 

Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart, a member of Ohio’s medical marijuana advisory committee, acknowledged the difficulty of navigating both state and federal law regarding gun ownership and medical marijuana. He told Cleveland.com that he has asked the two agencies that regulate medical cannabis in the state — the Ohio Department of Commerce and the Ohio Board of Pharmacy — to work with the state Attorney General to resolve the conflicts between the two sets of regulations.

Your Health Comes First

If you have further questions about legalities surrounding marijuana and gun ownership, we urge you to talk to a legal specialist. At Lakewood Medical Clinic, we make your health our top priority. When you’re suffering, we know how important it is to find a treatment that works for you. That’s why we take time to discuss your condition and determine if medical marijuana could help improve your quality of life. Contact us today for an appointment