Last month, Hawaii made headlines when police issued 30-day demands for all marijuana patients to turn in their firearms. Now it seems Ohio is following suit. Legal marijuana users in the state have officially been banned from owning guns or ammunition.
People who register with the state of Ohio to legally use medical marijuana will be prohibited from possessing firearms under federal law, according to guidance released by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.
In an open letter to federally licensed firearms dealers, the ATF advised in 2011 that marijuana is still a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law so any use of the drug is unlawful, and gun dealers are prohibited from providing guns or ammo to anyone they have cause to believe uses pot.
“There are no exceptions in federal law for marijuana purportedly used for medicinal purposes, even if such is sanctioned by state law,” the memo says.
The law applies to more than just buying guns. The ATF letter says marijuana users are prohibited from “shipping, transporting, receiving or possessing firearms or ammunition.”
Anyone applying to purchase a gun from a licensed dealer must sign a form attesting he or she is not “an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance.”
Lying on the form is a felony under federal law, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
“There is definitely a conflict between the state laws and the federal laws,” said Joe Eaton, southwest Ohio spokesman for the Buckeye Firearms Association.
It’s not clear how to reconcile that conflict, he said, “We are confused as everyone else at this point.”
Eaton isn’t the only person confused either. With Hawaiian marijuana users also being banned from owning guns, there’s a strong need for the conflict to be resolved.
Ohio’s medical marijuana program is set to become operational in September 2018. Ohioans will be able to register to use cannabis if they have a recommendation from a physician saying they have one of 21 qualifying conditions.
Industry analysts have estimated as many of 24 percent of the state’s population – or about 2.8 million Ohioans – have a qualifying condition.
The Associated Press reports that a federal circuit court of appeals ruling on a case out of Nevada found that the federal ban on the sale of guns to medical marijuana users doesn’t violate the Second Amendment.