Gun-owning Illinois residents will not have to give up their licensed firearms if they choose to purchase and consume marijuana in the newly-legalized state.
The Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA) released a statement to clarify their position on gun ownership and cannabis use following the state constitutional amendment to legalize adult-use marijuana in Illinois. While Illinois lawmakers legalized weed, it remains illegal under federal law, and it is specifically prohibited for any user of a controlled substance to own a firearm under federal law.
This situation has led to law enforcement in some states with medical marijuana programs to threaten to revoke firearm licenses of medical cannabis patients, though only Hawaii and Philadelphia have appeared to follow through on this so far in a very limited way.
The legal marijuana market opened in Illinois on Jan 1, 2020, and the ISRA released a statement the day before to “dispel any myths or bad information that we have seen shared on various social media platforms as it relates to the cannabis law in Illinois.”
ISRA lobbyist and former Illinois state legislator Ed Sullivan allayed some concerns and said that the mission of the ISRA is to protect Second Amendment Rights.
“If you want to smoke cannabis recreationally (marijuana, weed, reefer) come January 1, 2020 that is your right,” Sullivan said.
“If you don’t want to smoke cannabis, that is your right, as well. We live in the United States of America which gives you a 1st amendment right to your opinion either way. Our mission here at ISRA is to protect your 2nd Amendment Rights.”
Sullivan adds that those looking to buy a gun in Illinois must still declare that they are not an “unlawful user” of cannabis, or any other controlled substance. But what this means in practice now is unclear given that Illinois’ adult-use law states that cannabis possession and consumption is no longer an indication that an individual is “an unlawful user or addicted to narcotics.”
Illinois law enforcement back up Sullivan’s position by stating they will not seek to revoke the Firearm Owners’ Identification (FOID) cards for the use or possession of marijuana. There is a small caveat to this, however, as police officials separately announced they can still revoke FOID cards from those in violation of adult-use marijuana rules and regulations. Illinois cops also reserve the right to determine who is a “marijuana addict,” a designation liable to having an FOID card revoked.
One rumor circulating the internet recently claims that Illinois pot shops will hand over the personal data of customers to state and federal law officials, in order to revoke an individual’s FOID card. The article, shared widely but without an identifiable source, is headlined “Like guns? Avoid marijuana.”
Sullivan dismisses the suggestion that customer data is at risk directly, stating that Illinois law prohibits cannabis dispensaries from sharing such data with any third party, be it law enforcement or otherwise, without a court order or the customer’s consent.
The situation is slightly different for medical marijuana patients though. As registered patients recommended marijuana, their data is accessible to federal officials. Sullivan slyly recommends that medical marijuana patients in Illinois who are concerned at having their firearm license taken from them should consider getting their medicine from a recreational dispensary instead of a physician.