Can You Own Guns With A Medical Marijuana Card In Ohio?

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Written by Casandra Jones on 02/07/2024.
Data Last Updated: 07/22/2024.

Chromometer 5 min

Despite Ohio having a medical marijuana program, and the Second Amendment granting the right to bear arms, possessing a medical marijuana card makes it illegal to own, purchase, or possess firearms or ammunition under federal law. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has stated clearly that federal law prohibits marijuana users from owning guns, since marijuana remains classified as an illegal controlled substance at the federal level. This creates conflict between state and federal law regarding medical marijuana patients and gun ownership in Ohio.

Conflict Between State and Federal Law

Conflict Between State and Federal Law

In 2016, Ohio legalized medical marijuana for residents who have certain qualifying conditions and obtain a recommendation from a physician. However, a conflict between state and federal laws has created confusion around whether medical marijuana patients can legally own guns in Ohio.

Federal law states that marijuana is illegal and remains classified as a Schedule I controlled substance. However, Ohio’s state law permits residents to get a medical marijuana card with a doctor’s recommendation for specific medical conditions.

This conflict arises because federal law prohibits illegal drug users from possessing firearms or ammunition. So while Ohio residents can legally use medical marijuana under state law, federal law still views them as unlawful drug users who cannot own guns.

Key Factors in Ohio

There are several key factors that determine the specifics around this issue in Ohio:

  • Ohio does not require registration of all firearms. Federal authorities have no record of private or gun show sales.
  • The medical marijuana registry is confidential. Law enforcement can only verify legal use, not screen for status.
  • The state does not check for gun ownership when reviewing medical marijuana card applications.

Purchasing Guns from Licensed Dealers

Purchasing Guns from Licensed Dealers

Confusion can arise when someone tries to purchase a gun from a federally licensed firearms dealer. Federal ATF Form 4473 must be completed prior to purchase from these dealers.

Question 21e on this form asks about use of illegal drugs and specifically states that marijuana remains illegal federally even if states have legalized it medically or recreationally. Lying on this form is a felony offense. This deters medical marijuana patients from attempting purchases from licensed dealers.

On the other hand, buying guns privately or at gun shows does not require this form, creating an avenue for medical patients to potentially still obtain firearms.

Concealed Carry Permits

When it comes to concealed carry permits, the situation is also uncertain. Ohio concealed carry permit applications ask about illegal drug use, but do not specify that legal medical marijuana counts as illegal federally.

It is unclear whether medical marijuana use would prohibit someone from being granted a concealed carry permit in Ohio.

Law Enforcement Discretion

Despite conflicting laws, federal and local law enforcement agencies seem disinterested in targeting state-authorized medical marijuana users who own guns.

The greatest legal risks come from using marijuana illegally while possessing firearms in violation of both state and federal law. Having an authorized medical card provides some protection compared to illegal use.

Actions for Legal Gun Owners Considering Medical Marijuana

Those conflicted about obtaining a medical marijuana card who currently own guns legally should:

  • Consult an attorney to understand risks based on how guns were acquired
  • Consider private purchase to avoid Form 4473
  • Use caution and good judgment if possessing guns and marijuana
  • Be prepared to surrender firearms if charged with a disqualifying offense

Key Takeaways

The intersection between gun ownership and legal medical marijuana remains complicated in Ohio. Residents need to educate themselves on both federal and state laws to understand the trade-offs.

Speaking to an attorney can help gun-owning patients make the best decision if considering medical marijuana. Being a lawful gun owner and marijuana patient requires careful consideration of the conflicting laws.

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