OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation officials said Tuesday they plan to enforce any existing state and federal laws that prohibit marijuana users from possessing firearms or ammunition.
The enforcement decision, meanwhile, may create a thorny problem and a tough choice for gun owners who also want to possess a medical marijuana license.
Thirty-one states have legalized medical marijuana along with Oklahoma, but it remains a controlled substance federally. Under the current federal law, any person who illegally uses or is addicted to a controlled substance — like marijuana — is prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition.
OSBI Special Agent Steve Tanner said his agency doesn’t get to pick and choose what laws to enforce.
“We’re required to enforce the state law, and we’re required to enforce the federal law,” he said. “We don’t have any choice but to enforce the existing rules.”
Tanner said his agency recently updated its Self-Defense Act License application to note that individuals who have been issued a medical marijuana patient license should answer “yes” when asked if they unlawfully use or are addicted to a controlled substance.
“They may be precluded from being issued a firearms permit,” he said.
Applicants who face denials will still have the option to appeal the decision before a third-party arbitrator, he said.
Bud Scott, executive director of the medical marijuana trade group New Health Solutions Oklahoma, said the OSBI enforcement decision is “an example of an agency looking to subvert the will of the people.”
“We just legalized medical marijuana, which is still illegal at the federal level,” he said. “At this point, we’re just selectively choosing how to enforce the law.”
He said the gun-ownership application needs to be clarified by the Oklahoma Legislature promptly in a special session.
Scott is among a group of medical marijuana proponents pressing for a state law that protects medical marijuana patients’ right to bear arms and receive gun licenses.
Don Spencer, president of the Oklahoma Second Amendment Association, said enforcing federal gun laws may make it more difficult for Oklahomans to receive gun licenses.
He said medical marijuana needs to be recognized as a prescription drug.
“No person in legal possession of a prescription drug should be denied their Second Amendment right to the peaceful possession or ownership of a firearm or be denied a license to carry a handgun under the Oklahoma Self Defense Act unless previously arrested for any violation of the (act),” he said in a statement.
Janelle Stecklein covers the Oklahoma Statehouse for CNHI’s newspapers and websites. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.