Pubdate: Fri, 24 Jan 2014
Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)
Copyright: 2014 Chicago Tribune Company
Author: Eric Zorn


Draft Of New Medical Pot Rules Restricts Patients' Gun

Gun-rights organizations have been conspicuously reserved in their
response to a proposed state regulation that would prohibit patients
with medical marijuana permits from owning firearms.

"I don't think it's constitutional," said Richard Pearson, executive
director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, when I asked him
about the proposal. "It seems as though it's going to be decided in
the courts."

"It presents a novel legal conundrum," state National Rifle
Association lobbyist Todd Vandermyde told my Tribune colleague Robert
McCoppin. "The courts are going to have to reconcile it."

The national headquarters of the NRA didn't return a request for
comment. So allow me: This regulation, contained in a 48-page draft
proposal of rules related to the upcoming implementation of medical
marijuana released earlier this week by the Illinois Department of
Public Health, is absurd, hysterical, illogical, intrusive and a
brazen violation of the Second Amendment.

Absurd because it would require a person responsibly exercising a
right newly extended to him under state law to forswear the
responsible exercise of an existing right in state law and the U.S.
Constitution. Not only that, even the patient's caregiver will be
ineligible to own a gun if that person is handling or transporting the

Hysterical because it implies a connection between the use of medical
marijuana and violent behavior. But most researchers can't even find a
link suggesting recreational use of marijuana increases aggressive
behavior, much less medicinal use.

Illogical because there is a strong, well-documented connection
between consumption of alcohol and violent behavior - booze was
reportedly a factor in 1 in 5 violent crimes in 2008 according to a
Bureau of Justice Statistics report, and about half of all domestic
batteries according to an older report from the National Institute on
Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Yet no one would dare suggest an
either/or program to license drinking.

Intrusive because it would require the Illinois State Police to
inquire about irrelevant medical matters when that person applies for
a firearm owner's identification card. Imagine the uproar if the
questionnaire began asking about the use of prescription

A brazen violation of the Second Amendment because, like it or not,
the courts have been quite friendly to the idea that the threshold is
high when the law wants to infringe on a person's right to bear arms.
And here the threshold hasn't even been approached.

Gun-rights advocates, given their largely conservative constituency,
are plainly wary of getting into the drug debate on the side of users
- - even ailing, sympathetic users who will be breaking no state laws by
ingesting cannabis for its palliative effect.

So they'll quietly hope that common sense prevails, as it did in
Oregon several years ago when the state Supreme Court overturned a
county sheriff's officious denial of a concealed-gun permit to a woman
who was registered to use marijuana to treat her painful muscle spasms.

Oregon made the same case that the Illinois State Police made to me
when I asked them why they submitted the proposed gun/pot regulation
to the Illinois Department of Public Health:

Federal law requires it. Specifically the passage in the U.S. Code
that says "It shall be unlawful for any person to sell or otherwise
dispose of any firearm or ammunition to any person knowing or having
reasonable cause to believe that such person is an unlawful user of or
is addicted to a controlled substance."

And just to be clear on what that means, the federal Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives posted an open letter to
federal firearms licensees in 2011 affirming, "there are no exceptions
in federal law for marijuana purportedly used for medicinal purposes,
even if such use is sanctioned by state law."

The Oregon Supreme Court, in a decision that the U.S. Supreme Court
declined to review, held that Congress had no authority to meddle in
state firearms regulations, but if the feds want to come in and arrest
gun-packing users of medical marijuana, well, that would be their

And of course they haven't done that. Nor, given the current
laissez-faire attitude toward marijuana users among federal
authorities, are they likely to in Illinois or any of the other states
where medical marijuana has been legalized.

Which leads me to this final adjective for this proposed regulation,
which still has to undergo several layers of review and a public
hearing process before becoming law:

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MAP posted-by: Jo-D