Unfortunately, the answer is not entirely straightforward. Owning a gun does not disqualify you from getting a medical marijuana card in Ohio. However, when federal marijuana laws conflict with State marijuana laws, things get complicated.
The Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program's Patient Registry is a closed system. This means that your medical records are still protected by HIPAA and that access to the registry is limited to your healthcare providers and law enforcement. Law enforcement may only access your status as a patient in order to verify that you are using medical marijuana legally.
Considering Ohio does not require firearms to be registered, it is unlikely that the Feds will even know whether you have guns unless you made your purchase through a Federally-licensed dealer (more on this in the next section).
The OMMCP does not check for gun ownership status when you are applying for your Ohio marijuana card.
Is This Legal?
The reason for this is that according to federal law, marijuana is still a controlled substance.
In the eyes of the Feds, marijuana is still considered Schedule I, lumped in with heroin as having no medicinal value and a high risk for abuse.
According to the 1968 Gun Control Act, anyone who uses or is in possession of a controlled substance cannot also own or be in possession of firearms. Some interpret this law to include all persons living in (or even visiting) the same household.
The main interest when the controlled substance portion was added to this act, was to give law enforcement the freedom to build cases against major drug cartels famous for illegal drug and firearms trade and possession.
However, it has also historically been used to toughen the penalties for regular citizens who get caught with illegal drugs when they happen to own guns.
The federal government has left the issue of marijuana legalization up to individual states. However, the Second Amendment allows citizens to bear arms is written into the Constitution, which makes laws surrounding firearms a federal issue.
This is where things get tricky because the enforcement of federal laws is highly dependent on cooperation from the states themselves. Resources for seeking out, arresting, and prosecuting federal criminals are limited, and top-level government agencies rely on local law enforcement to manage the majority of the legwork.
How Are Other States Handling This?
As of August 31, 2021, more than 500 thousand medical marijuana recommendations have been issued. Considering Ohio is eighth in the US for gun ownership, then there is bound to be a considerable amount of overlap.
This is generally the case in most states, and it is even greater in states where recreational marijuana is legal. It has created quite the conundrum for law enforcement, and most state lawmakers and enforcers are watching other states to see how they are handling it.
Some courts have upheld that just because medical marijuana is legal in a state, that doesn't mean that those who use it can own a gun. However, there is significant pushback from legislators in states where residents are passionate about their Second Amendment rights.
One such state is Missouri, where the Second Amendment Preservation Act was passed in June 2021. The act makes it unlawful for enforcement officers employed by local or Missouri state agencies to enforce federal laws related to guns. Officers who do can face a fine of up to $50 thousand for every instance.
An Oregon Supreme Court ruling also indicated that the County Sheriff's office had a duty to issue concealed gun licenses to qualified applicants regardless of their status as medical marijuana patients.
When you buy a gun from a Federally licensed dealer, you must fill out what’s called a Firearms Transaction Record.
Question 21e asks the following: " Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?
Warning: The use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under Federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medicinal or recreational purposes in the state where you reside."
Lying on this form can result in hefty penalties and even jail time, so we don't advise that you do so.
However, purchasing a firearm from a private seller and/or at gun shows does not require a background check or for the purchaser to fill out this form.
Concealed Carry permits in Ohio are granted through the Sheriff's department in the county in which you reside. The form required asks if you are an unlawful user of a controlled substance, but does not include the clarification that even medical marijuana is considered federally unlawful.
Though the legality of owning a gun while being an active user of medical marijuana is still in question, these are the facts that it is important to know:
It is federally illegal to purchase, possess, or use marijuana, even if for medical purposes and even if it's legal in your state.
Federal Government officials are uninterested in sniffing out gun owners who are otherwise abiding by State laws.
State and local law enforcement are also likely uninterested in contradicting state laws for the sake of busting someone who is using their medicine and practicing their Second Amendment rights.
The most likely scenarios in which you could find yourself in legal hot water over guns and marijuana are those where you are committing another crime, or if you are carrying your firearm while intoxicated by marijuana.
If you do commit a crime while in possession of both medical marijuana and a gun, or if you are carrying your gun while intoxicated, you are not likely to get any leniency just because you have a medical marijuana card. You may also be subject to federal investigation or penalties because possessing guns and marijuana at the same time is Federally unlawful.
If you don't have a medical marijuana card in Ohio, then purchasing, possessing, and using marijuana is illegal. If you also own guns, you are committing a crime that could come with additional penalties as a result of the 1968 Gun Control Act.
*Note: This page is by no means meant to be taken as legal advice or to replace the counsel of an attorney. In order to be absolutely certain of your legal status, or if you find yourself in legal trouble related to marijuana, contact an attorney.
Though we can't tell you that an Ohio marijuana card provides legal protection in the case of gun ownership or possession, we can tell you that using marijuana illegally while having firearms is a big no-no. If you possess marijuana without a doctor's recommendation, you could find yourself in even bigger trouble if you also happen to have guns.
The choices gun owners need to make when considering medical cannabis are not straightforward. However, the answer of whether you should get a card or not is pretty clear if you make the decision to use marijuana regardless of legality, especially if you own a gun. When you have your medical card, then you are a legal cannabis user.
An officer who finds legal marijuana in your possession will not inquire any further, because there is no probable cause to believe that you are committing a crime. However, an officer who finds illegal marijuana in your possession will likely conduct a search for additional contraband.