Pubdate: Thu, 29 Jul 2010
Source: Ashland Daily Tidings (OR)
Copyright: 2010 Ashland Daily Tidings
Author: Paris Achen, for the Tidings
Note: Paris Achen is a reporter for the Mail Tribune.


Winters Challenges Appeals Court Following June Ruling

The Jackson County sheriff is challenging an Oregon Court of Appeals
decision that he had no legal basis for denying a concealed handgun
license to a medical marijuana cardholder.

Sheriff Mike Winters denied Cynthia Willis' gun permit in 2008,
arguing that granting the permit would violate federal laws
prohibiting drug users from legally possessing guns.

Upholding an earlier ruling by Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Mark
Schiveley, the appeals court in June concluded the sheriff would not
break the federal Gun Control Act of 1968 by issuing a handgun permit
to Willis based on Oregon's concealed handgun licensing laws. The
federal act gives states the authority to set their own rules for gun

"I'm disappointed Jackson County thinks it's appropriate to expend
taxpayer funds to continue with this litigation," said Leland Berger,
a Portland attorney who represents Willis. "If the sheriff wants to be
able to discriminate against medical marijuana cardholders in this
fashion, he needs to go to the state Legislature (rather than the
court) to ask that to happen."

Frank Hammond, Jackson County counsel, declined to discuss why the
county chose to appeal the decision.

Winters' petition to the Oregon Supreme Court to review the case was
filed June 2, one day after Washington County Sheriff Rob Gordon
appealed to the Supreme Court in a similar case.

The Washington County case began in 2006 when Washington County
Circuit Court Judge Marco Hernandez said Gordon could not deny a
permit to Steven Schwerp, a medical marijuana user.

The two cases were argued together before the appeals court and could
again be argued together before the Supreme Court, if the court
chooses to accept the case. The court agrees to review just 5 percent
of petitions filed.

It's unknown when the court might decide whether to hear the

"There is no specific deadline to make that decision, but it usually
takes about two to three months," said Phil Lemman, a spokesperson at
the Oregon Judicial Department.

In its ruling, the Court of Appeals found that Willis complied with
state law in her application and disputed Winters' federal arguments.
The court concluded Winters was not convincing in his arguments that
it was impossible to comply with both the state and federal law.

Willis, 53, volunteers with Patient Services, a nonprofit that helps
people obtain medical marijuana cards.

At the time she applied for the concealed handgun license, she said
she had been a medical marijuana user for four years to alleviate
severe muscle spasms.

Paris Achen is a reporter for the Mail Tribune. 
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