Oklahoma now denying carry licenses to medical marijuana users?

(AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

Well this is a troubling development. Back in 2018, voters in Oklahoma approved a medical marijuana program, and according to the state there are now more than 350,000 individuals who possess a medical marijuana card. The following year Gov. Kevin Stitt signed Constitutional Carry into law, and while a concealed carry license is no longer needed in order for lawful gun owners to legally bear arms, there are still a good number of residents want one, even if only for the sake of reciprocity.


Now, however, it appears that the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is checking to see whether active licensees and applicants are also medical marijuana users, and if they are they’re denying them a carry license.

Mark Berdolet had been permitted to conceal and carry firearms through the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) for the past 10 years.

But when his permit expired earlier this year, he tried to renew it and was told no. The reason? His medical marijuana card.

“A little over two years ago, my doctor recommended to treat my neuropathy because I was having some side-effects from the Gabapentin I was on,” Berdolet said. “[My doctor suggested] to get an Oklahoma Marijuana Patient card. And I asked him, ‘Could that affect my firearms?’ He said, ‘Oh no, they passed this law, they can’t discriminate against you in Oklahoma for having that.'”

He’s talking about Senate Bill 631, signed into law by Gov. Kevin Stitt in 2021, which made Oklahoma a second amendment sanctuary, meaning the rights of law-abiding citizens to own and possess guns will always be protected.

Senate Bill 959 specifically protects the gun rights of medical marijuana patients. But Berdolet says he was still denied.

“Not only are you not allowed to have an Oklahoma Conceal to Carry Permit, but under federal guidelines, you aren’t allowed to buy firearms and aren’t fit to own firearms,” Berdolet said.

Yep, that is indeed the case, though not every state is cross-referencing the database of medical marijuana card holders with concealed carry licensees. As for SB 959, while it would have protected the rights of medical marijuana patients, the legislative history of the bill shows that despite passing unanimously in the Senate in 2020 it never received a final vote in the House and was not signed into law by the governor. If it had, the current statute would include the following language:


C. Nothing in this section shall be construed to allow the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to deny an otherwise qualified applicant from obtaining a handgun license pursuant to the Oklahoma Self-Defense Act solely on the basis of the applicant being a lawful holder of a medical marijuana patient license.

The current statute stops at “B”, with no mention whatsoever of the OSBI being prohibited from denying carry licenses solely on the basis of holding a medical marijuana license. As a result, Berdolet doesn’t really have any recourse here, at least when it comes to a carry license, and its an open question as to whether or not he can even carry under the state’s Constitutional Carry law, which generally provides that those who can lawfully possess a firearm can legally carry it without the need for a state-issued permission slip. Under federal law, Berdolet is prohibited from possessing a firearm as an unlawful user of drugs, and while someone like Hunter Biden may be able to avoid prosecution and prison time for such an offense, guys like Berdolet can’t count on getting the same slap on the wrist if they’re caught.

As a result, medical marijuana patients like Berdolet are forced to choose between their health and their civil rights. There is, however, the chance of some relief in the courts. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals is currently considering a case called U.S. v. Harrison, which deals with an Oklahoma man charged under that federal statute for possessing both cannabis and a firearm. U.S. District Court Judge Patrick Wyrick ruled earlier this year that the federal prohibition is unconstitutional, and the Biden administration has appealed that decision to the 10th Circuit. Jared Michael Harrison’s reply to the DOJ’s opening brief is due next week, and the appeals court will hopefully soon set a date for oral arguments. In the meantime, Wyrick’s decision doesn’t apply to every gun owner in the state, but Berdolet and others could soon possess both medical marijuana for their health and a firearm to protect their life without fear of being sent to federal prison.





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