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Medical Marijuana and the Gun Control Debate Take an Interesting Turn in Illinois

 Posted on May 29, 2014 in Criminal Law

medical marijuana, gun control, criminal defense lawyer, criminal defense attorneyThe firearms debate in Illinois has taken an interesting turn. The federal government's stance that a person should not both legally hold a firearm, while also having a prescription for medical marijuana, has recently appeared in Illinois' most recent draft of medical marijuana regulation. The criminal law attorneys here at the Law Offices of Cosmo Tedone and Barbara Morton, P.C. are carefully watching the implications of this interpretation, and its possible effect of criminalizing those medical marijuana users who are also legal gun owners under state law.

 Proposed Rules of the Illinois Department of Public Health In 2013, the approval of medical marijuana in Illinois was greeted with joy by long suffering advocates throughout the state. Earlier this year, the Illinois Department of Public Health proposed a new rule, within which it is alleged that medical marijuana users, who are also gun owners, could possibly "be subject to administrative proceedings by the Illinois State Police if they do not voluntarily surrender" guns upon receiving a medical marijuana card. More specifically, it is asserted that the actual permit to carry firearms should be surrendered to the authorities. Even a caregiver of a person who applies for medical marijuana on the behalf of another would be culpable, at least under the proposed rule's interpretation.

The Medical Marijuana-Firearm Debate

All questions regarding the issue have been referred by the Illinois Department of Health to the Illinois State Police Department. The Illinois State Police Department's response to the proposal is grounded in federal criminal law. The language contained within the Health Department's draft policy cites both the Illinois' Firearm Owners Identification Card Act and the federal Gun Control Act. Essentially, under federal law, marijuana use, which is illegal, includes the possession of marijuana, regardless of use. Additionally, caregivers receiving medical marijuana on behalf of another cannot hold a firearm permit. The ATF has supported this interpretation, stating that federal law does not provide any exceptions to this law, regardless of whether medical use of the drug is sanctioned under a state law.

This scenario is a classic example of the ambiguity inherent in criminal law issues where there may be federalism disagreements. State and federal crimes are distinct. When they overlap or contradict one another, then it can be difficult for legal professionals, let alone residents, to understand exactly what is or is not allowable.

 It remains to be seen whether the proposed Illinois regulations that are the subject of this debate will ever be passed. As a result, the criminalization of holding both a gun owner permit and a medical marijuana card might not become an officially prosecuted crime under Illinois law. Contact the lawyers here at the Law Office of Tedone and Martin, P.C. in Joliet, Illinois for more information about the criminal law aspects of medical marijuana and gun owner permits.

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