Unless you live under a rock, you may have heard that Oklahoma recently became the 30th state to legalize marijuana for medical use. Of course, as our government is wont to do, they have completely bungled the execution. Because there are still many questions regarding the implementation of HOW you are going to get medical marijuana, this post is geared more towards what happens once you already have it and the changes to the possession laws.
- Marijuana is Still Illegal Under Federal Law. While there have been no widespread efforts by the federal government to crackdown on possessors (or even state approved sellers) of marijuana, possession and distribution of marijuana are still illegal under federal law, and could potentially land you in jail. Further, because it is still illegal under Federal Law, the possession, use and/or distribution of marijuana, even if state approved, can affect you in other ways I discuss below.
- Possession of a Medical Marijuana Card MAY Preclude You From Owning Firearms and Ammunition Under Federal Law. Under Oklahoma and Federal Law, you cannot carry a firearm under the influence of schedule 1 drugs, which include marijuana. Further, the purchase of a firearm from a dealer is precluded based upon the specific question (11e) in Form 4473 which asks whether you are an “unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug or any other controlled substance.” As stated above, it is still unlawful to possess marijuana under federal law. There is some debate on whether the simple possession of a medical marijuana card and a firearm, without the intent to purchase marijuana, would still be a crime. While there are reasonable arguments for and against this proposition, I would not chance a federal firearms charge just to prove a point, or for a novelty.
- Possession of Marijuana is no Longer an Arrestable Offense (IF You Can State a Medical Reason). While possession of an amount of Marijuana lower than the prescribed limits is clearly legal, there are now two classes of criminal possession of Marijuana: the typical possession of Marijuana which carries up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine OR a fine only ticket of $400.00 IF you can state a medical reason for your possession of the marijuana. HOWEVER, there are several issues here that remain to be solved such as who you have to state the condition to, do you have to prove the condition, whats the burden of proof and so on. These issues will be played out over the coming months and I anticipate varied jurisdictions will treat it differently.
- Possession of Paraphernalia is Still an Arrestable Offense, Unless You Have a Medical Marijuana Card. While you can just get a ticket for stating a medical reason for possession of marijuana, there is no such exception for possession of paraphernalia. I have seen people charged with paraphernalia for the container the marijuana is held in.
- While Employers Cannot Fire You for Simply Holding a Medical Marijuana License, or Simply for Testing Positive With a Medical Marijuana License, You Can Still be Fired if You are Impaired on the Job, or Commit Another Workplace Violation. While the statute is very broadly written, it does not give you carte blanche to be high at work, even if you have a medical marijuana card. Further, since marijuana is still against federal law, an employer does not have to follow the ADA in regards to reasonable accommodations. It should also be noted that I do anticipate the state legislature amending this part of the statute and including some additional employer protections in the coming years.
- Under Oklahoma Law, You Can Still Be Charged With DUI-Drugs if They Have Reason to Believe You are Impaired AND you Have Any Marijuana Metabolites in Your System. I anticipate MANY more prosecutions for DUI-Drugs because of this statute. The officer only has to prove there was probable cause to believe that you are impaired, and if you refuse a test, or have ANY detectable metabolites in your system you can be found guilty of DUI – Drugs. Since metabolites for marijuana stay in your system for up to a month, there will be many prosecutions of people that have not used in quite some time. At least one other state has found similar language to be unconstitutional, but Oklahoma still recognizes this draconian idea.
- There are Still Many Other Concerns Regarding a Conviction for Possession of Marijuana. Pleading guilty and just paying the fine for possession still suspends your drivers license if you were in a vehicle, you may have trouble with federal student aid, you may have problems getting into college or professional schools, there are issues with federal security clearance and you may have trouble qualifying for public housing, among other issues.
The bottom line is that while a lot of people were very excited about the new law, there are still considerable issues surrounding possession of marijuana, even if you get a medical marijuana license. If you have any specific concerns, feel free to contact us for a FREE CONSULTATION at 580-249-9100.