Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Laws
What’s up with weed in Oklahoma these days?
Before everyone gets too excited about the passing of the new Medical Marijuana Laws, there are still a few things that people need to keep in mind.
- First, and maybe most importantly, Marijuana is Still Illegal Under Federal Law. Oklahoma is not the first State to legalize marijuana in some way, whether medical or recreational. So even while roughly half the states have enacted some level of legalization, marijuana is still illegal under Federal law. And while the federal government has not shown much, if any, interest in prosecuting anyone who is in compliance with their State laws regarding possession and sale of marijuana, that does not change the fact that it is illegal under Federal law. And if the Federal government chose to prosecute anyone for possession or sale of marijuana, they could, despite the fact that it is perfectly legal under their State law.
- Your state-issued Medical Marijuana Card Could Make it Illegal for You To Own Firearms, and maybe even Ammunition, Under Federal Law. Under both Oklahoma and Federal Law, you cannot carry a firearm while under the influence of marijuana. Additionally, you cannot purchase a firearm if you are a user of marijuana (among other criteria). Because it is still illegal under Federal Law to possess and use marijuana, it would be considered risky to have a Medical Marijuana Card and a firearm, as one could argue that only users of marijuana would have a Medical Marijuana Card. And users of marijuana are prohibited under Federal Law from owing or possessing firearms.
- One Must Be Aware of the DUI-Drugs Law. We have a law in Oklahoma that is going to be a problem for anyone using marijuana for medical purposes. The way the law is written, anyone who has METABOLITES of marijuana in their system, not the active THC, but metabolites alone, is presumed to be under the influence of marijuana. We all know this is nonsensical, as metabolites only show that one has used marijuana at some past point in time (sometimes as long as 30 days, if not longer), and that metabolites have NOTHING to do with intoxication. Still, with this law, an Officer only has to state that he believes a driver is impaired by marijuana. And if a blood test shows metabolites (which it will for most who hold a Medical Marijuana License), then that person can be found guilty of DUI drugs, regardless of whether they are actually under the influence or not.
- Can you be Arrested for Possession of Marijuana If You Do Not Have A Medical Marijuana License? State Question 788 states that simple possession of marijuana shall carry punishment of a $400.00 fine, assuming you can state a medical condition justifying the need for marijuana. However, State Statute still holds that the typical possession of Marijuana carries up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. What is not clear is which punishment controls. And, if it’s the $400.00 fine, do you have to be arrested, and see a judge, in order to plead your medical condition? Do you plead it to the Officer, and hope that the Officer only issues you a ticket? And do you need a prescription from a doctor? Furthermore, at this time, possession of paraphernalia is still an arrestable offense, carrying up to one year in jail, unless you have a Medical Marijuana Card.
- Consequences of Being Convicted of Possession of Marijuana. If you find yourself facing a possession of marijuana charge, whether through an arrest or a ticket, it is not always a good idea to just enter a guilty plea pay a fine. That course of action will often lead to a conviction. With a conviction, you will likely find your drivers license suspended if you were in a vehicle at the time you got arrested/ticketed. You may also face trouble with federal student aid, certain professional organizations may not allow you to join their organizations, or you may have trouble with certain security clearances, as well as other possible. issues.
- Just Because You Cannot Be Fired From Your Job For Having a Medical Marijuana License, You Can Still Be Fired For Any Number of Other Reasons. State Question 788 states that an employer cannot fire an employee simply because they have a Medical Marijuana License. But, this does not mean that you can smoke on the job, or come to work while impaired by marijuana. Oklahoma is an “at will” state, meaning you can be fired for virtually any reason, with some exceptions. So while your employer cannot fire you specifically because you have a Medical Marijuana License, that does not mean that they cannot fire you because you come to work impaired by marijuana. Also, keep in mind, if your job has any federal oversight (CDL drivers, for instance), it can still be illegal for you to use marijuana, as the metabolites will show up on any UA’s that an employer gives you.
The passage of State Question 788 has done a lot to move the ball forward in terms of more relaxed and sensible marijuana laws. But, there are still a number of areas where one could really get themselves into trouble if they do not understand the full scope of the situation. If you have any specific concerns, or find yourself facing a situation, please feel free to contact us for a FREE CONSULTATION at (918) 582-6333.