Gun Rights

Illinois, Defying Federal Policy, Wants to Let Medical Marijuana Licensees Have Guns

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Illinois is reportedly intending to bravely flout federal policy regarding medical marijuana and the right to possess weapons, the Chicago Tribune reports:

The Illinois Department of Public Health had proposed requiring gun owners to give up their firearms if they became medical marijuana patients.

But after howls of protest from gun owners and marijuana users alike, regulators are dropping that prohibition, according to someone with knowledge of the rules who spoke on condition of anonymity….

The revised state rules are due to come out publicly Friday. They will then go to a legislative committee which will consider further changes before finalizing the regulations, clearing the way for business and patient applications in the fall, and possibly for marijuana distribution next year.

As readers of Reason know, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) considers what Illinois is seemingly willing to allow to be a no-no.

To the feds, state-legal medical marijuana licensees, as I reported back in 2011, "fall afoul of Sect. 922(g) of the federal criminal code (from the 1968 federal Gun Control Act), which says that anyone "who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance" is basically barred from possessing or receiving guns or ammo."

Nick Gillespie blogged back in January on Illinois, medical pot, and gun rights, when the state was planning to try to obey federal policy and keep its pot licence holders from owning guns.

I reported about the Wilson v. Holder case attempting to vindicate medical marijuana licensees Second Amendment right in 2011 when the suit was filed, and last month when a federal judge threw it out of court (though it may appeal its way back in, the lawyers in the case tell me). As more states license medical marijuana users, this particular confusing element of Second Amendment law is going to demand some more judicial decision making, and hopefully judicial sense that recognizes that merely being permitted to use certain medicines should not bar you form exercising a core constitutional right to self-defense.

Alas, the decision in the 2008 Heller case—which I wrote a book about, Gun Control on Trialleft too many annoying ambiguities in the hows whens and whys of federal encroachment on the Second Amendment—a matter I wrote a Reason feature article about in our April issue.