The Oklahoma Senate unanimously passed a gun rights bill last week that allows the state’s medical marijuana patients to purchase, possess, conceal-carry, and operate firearms in defiance of federal policy.
The bill, SB959, was authored and introduced by Republican Senator Nathan Dahm. “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. “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.”
Now that the bill has passed the Republican-controlled Senate, it goes on to a vote in the state’s House of Representatives, which is also controlled by Republicans. After that, it goes to the state’s governor, Kevin Stitt, who is also a Republican.
The Second Amendment of the US Constitution states that all Americans have a right to bear arms, and that right “shall not be infringed” by the federal government. However, courts have taken several, oftentimes conradictory, approaches to interpreting the Second Amendment. In regard to medical cannabis, the federal government considers marijuana a Schedule I drug, the most restrictive category. Currently, federal gun policies consider anyone who possesses, uses, manufactures, or sells Schedule I drugs unfit to own or operate a firearm, even if the individual resides in a state that legalized medical or recreational cannabis.
However, gun-rights activists in several weed-legal jurisdictions have either ignored the federal policy or are trying to reform their local laws to accomodate cannabis consumption and gun ownership. For instance, the Illinois State Rifle Association asserts that the Windy State’s medical and recreational marijuana laws do not ban residents from owning guns. But patients in other states, such as Nevada and Maine, have been convicted for consuming medical cannabis while packing heat.
In Pennsylvania, a medical doctor sued the federal government last year claiming that his rights were violated when he was denied a gun purchase after admitting to being a cannabis patient.
In 2018, another Pennsylvania medical cannabis patient wrestled over this issue, too. At the time, Paul Gruver, a professional automobile detailer, had signed up for the state’s new medical marijuana program, but he wasn’t sure what to do with the .22 caliber pistol and rifle that he kept for self-defense purposes.
“It’s a violation of my Second Amendment rights,” Gruver told The Associated Press. “I don’t know of any time anyone’s been using marijuana and going out and committing acts of violence with a gun. Most of the time they just sit on their couch and eat pizza.”
Last year, Maryland Republican Rep. Alex Mooney introduced the Second Amendment Protection Act to the US House. The federal bill would allow medical marijuana patients to own guns, so long as they’re compliant with state laws. No further actions have been taken on the federal bill since its introduction, though.