Medical Marijuana

Marijuana and Guns in Illinois

Weather you are a proponent or opponent of the legalization of marijuana, one thing is for sure, the issue of marijuana and guns has become a complex issue. There are basically two sets of laws which govern the issue of marijuana and guns in Illinois. The federal laws as well as the Illinois state laws.

The Federal government made marijuana illegal in the 1930’s through the Marijuana Tax Act. Illinois made the use of marijuana (cannabis) legal for those with a prescription in 2013. The law took effect in 2014, though the use of marijuana is still illegal on a federal level, even for those with prescriptions.  The federal government still considers marijuana to be illegal and has cracked down on growers and distributors in other states.

The federal government also has control over firearms through the Gun Control Act of 1968 which is administered by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, which is known as the BATFE or ATF for short.  The ATF requires gun buyers fill out a form (form 4473) when purchasing a firearm from a gun dealer. This applies across the entire country, not just Illinois.  The 4473 previously asked:

Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana, or any depressant, stimulant, or narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?
This is an interesting question. If you have been issued a prescription, or live in a state where marijuana has been decriminalized; Are you an unlawful user?  The answer is yes and no. Yes on a federal level, no on a state or local level. Therefore the ATF has decided to change the form 4473 to clarify and now asks:
Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?
Warning: The use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under Federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medicinal or recreational purposes in the state where you reside.

Note that the bold warning is actually on the new ATF form and not added to this post for emphasis, but added by the federal government.

In the time since Illinois passed the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act things almost immediately became confusing for gun owners in Illinois.

In 2013, when the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act was first signed into law,  that wasn’t the case. The proposed administrative rules had language which prohibited firearm ownership for those with the Illinois medical marijuana prescription. Due to public outcry, the proposed rules were redrafted to eliminate the firearm ban for medical marijuana patients.

In 2016, Numerous Illinois gun owners, whom also obtained medial marijuana prescriptions, had reported being denied the purchase of a new firearm.  Gun Stores were blamed. The Illinois State Police were blamed, but then the state police explained the denial is due to the rewording of the ATF form 4473.

 

But, the question is often asked, “If I obtain a medical marijuana prescription, will I also lose my FOID card and/or concealed carry license?”

For those reading this who may be unsure what a FOID card is, all Illinois Residents who wish to purchase or own firearms and ammunition must have a valid Firearm Owners Identification Card.  Those Illinois residents who wish to carry a concealed firearm in public must have a valid concealed carry license. If your FOID and or Concealed Carry License were to be revoked, you would also lose your gun rights in Illinois. So the question remains, if a gun owner were to obtain a medical marijuana prescription in Illinois, would they lose their gun rights?

The current answer is No. Under current Illinois State Police interpretation of the law; A gun owner will not lose their gun rights in Illinois if they also obtain a medical marijuana prescription.

 

The compassionate Cannabis Act states multiple times,

“A registered qualifying patient or registered designated caregiver is not subject to arrest, prosecution, or denial of any right or privilege,

The Illinois State Police Firearm Services Bureau website states as part of their FAQ,

If I am a qualifying patient or designated caregiver pursuant to the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act and hold a valid Medical Cannabis Card, are my Firearms Owners Identification Card and Concealed Carry License still valid?

Medical marijuana cardholders will not have their FOID or CCL cards revoked, or be denied issuance of a FOID or CCL card, due to their status as a medical marijuana cardholder. Such cards are State-issued, governed by State law, and State law requires that a person’s status as a medical marijuana cardholder not result in the denial of any right or privilege.

In summary, the complex issue of Marijuana and Guns in Illinois leaves us with this.

Marijuana is still illegal on the federal level and marijuana use is currently a disqualifying factor at the federal level for firearm purchases and indeed even firearm possession. However on the state level, the Illinois State Police will not revoke your FOID or Concealed Carry License. You will not be able to purchase any firearms from dealers, but may still utilize Illinois law for private party purchases of firearms (See also: How to Sell a Gun in Illinois ). As of the time of this writing, there have been no known federal prosecutions of medical marijuana patients in Illinois for simply possessing a firearm.

The use of marijuana without a prescription in Illinois is an immediate revocation of your FOID and Concealed Carry Licenses.

 

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/publicacts/99/PDF/099-0519.pdf

https://www.ispfsb.com/Public/Faq.aspx

 

Disclaimer: The above information is for educational purposes only. The claims made are not to be considered legal advise and have not been reviewed by a lawyer.

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Thomas Kral

Thomas Kral is an avid gun rights advocate being involved in the movement in Illinois since 2012 and became one of the very first Concealed Carry instructors to be certified by the Illinois State Police in 2013.

Thomas is also a proud father and husband, having said, "The only things more important than 2nd Amendment issues and gun rights are my wife and kids."

2 Comments

  1. My understanding is that the person with a Marijuana prescription would still be breaking federal law by possessing a firearm. Is that not true?

    1. Brandon, that is exactly the way I read it. I think it is clear that Federal Law prohibits firearm possession by users of marijuana. Until that changes, users are subject to federal prosecution and limitations on firearms possession–whether or not the State allows either or both is irrelevant to the Feds.

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