By Patricia Ann Speelman -

SIDNEY — Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee has begun discussions about an apparent loophole in regulations concerning the use of the drug by people who own guns and concealed-carry permits.

Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart, who sits on the committee, recently told the Sidney Daily News that people who think they are law-abiding citizens may actually be breaking the law because of the loophole.

Before purchasing a weapon in Ohio, a would-be buyer must file a federal form as part of the required background check. One of the questions asks if the buyer uses illegal drugs and includes a warning that use of marijuana is still considered illegal at the federal level even if the drug has been decriminalized at the state level. Users cannot legally purchase weapons or hold concealed-carry permits.

No such warning appears on the form one must file to be registered to purchase medical marijuana in Ohio. Nor does the warning appear on the form one must file to get a concealed-carry permit here.

“We believe that citizens should be aware and that the medical marijuana form should have that on it,” Lenhart said.

The committee thinks that people should know they may have to choose between owning a weapon with a concealed carry permit and taking medical marijuana.

Lenhart is concerned that someone who already has a concealed-carry permit and then begins to take marijuana could be charged with a crime if he uses his weapon.

“Something happens and you have to defend your family. I don’t want a law-abiding citizen that I issue a concealed-carry (permit) to get in trouble in a civil or criminal way because of this. There’s no way for him to know,” Lenhart said.

He also noted that Ohio has reciprocal agreements about concealed-carry permits with other states. It is unlawful in Ohio for someone to carry a weapon, concealed or otherwise, and consume alcohol. Lenhart said that it is difficult to know what the strength of any particular dose of medical marijuana might be.

The advisory committee has recommended to the Ohio Board of Pharmacy and the Ohio Department of Commerce, the two departments who oversee the regulation of medical marijuana, that they go to the state attorney general and work out acceptable language for inclusion on the marijuana-use registration form.

The committee is not suggesting that the federal law be changed.

In the meantime, in Shelby County, Lenhart is working with the Shelby County Prosecutor’s Office to draft a cover letter that will be given to applicants for concealed-carry permits and renewals. The letter will outline the possibility of civil or criminal action against the applicant if medical marijuana is used while the permit is held.

By Patricia Ann Speelman

Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.