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Proposed new IL medical marijuana rules force choice: Medicine or self-defense

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Back in July, when it became clear that Illinois would be joining the states legalizing cannabis for medical use, this column hypothesized that those who avail themselves of their newly legalized medicine would surrender legal exercise of the right to armed self-defense. At the time that article was written, a hypothesis was all that was available, because although this column had asked the Illinois State Police for clarity on the issue, no answer was forthcoming.

Well, not quickly, anyway. Just over four months later, on December 5, Illinois State Police chief of communications Monique Bond answered. Well, "answered" might be a bit strong, but at least she replied:

Thank you for your inquiry below regarding medical marijuana and FOID. Your inquiries have been noted; however at this time, the ISP is not in a position to provide specific responses to some of the questions [translation: "the ISP is not in a position to provide specific--or even general--responses to any of the questions]. Once the ISP in a position to provide specific answers, we will post similar questions with answers on our website under the FOID FAQ section.

One might think that such a singularly unhelpful, uninformative response could be generated in something less than four months, but keep in mind that this is the same agency that once told women that vomiting was a better rape defense than firearms were, so it was perhaps predictable that expecting much from these folks would lead to disappointment.

As National Gun Rights Examiner David Codrea reports, on Tuesday, the Illinois Department of Public Health released its proposal for specific rules governing the medical marijuana program, and the issue of guns was mentioned:

That the applicant understands that a qualifying patient or designated caregiver with a current Firearm Owners Identification Card or a Concealed Carry Weapons Permit who is approved for a registry identification card shall be in violation of and may not possess firearms under relevant state and federal law. As such, registered qualifying patients and designated caregivers are not eligible for a Firearm Owners Identification Card or a Firearm Concealed Carry License and may be subject to administrative proceedings by the Illinois State Police if they do not voluntarily surrender such card or license.

So the proposal is to disarm not only the patient, but the caregiver (a person who is authorized to acquire the cannabis for a patient who is unable to do so independently), as well, because . . . well just because, apparently. Furthermore, even failure to surrender the required paperwork for gun possession (and now for carrying a gun) will apparently be considered a crime. There is no word, by the way, on whether or not the "AK-47" marijuana strain will be legal.

The reasoning, according to the Chicago Tribune, is that with marijuana still considered an illegal drug under federal law, and with federal law very clearly prohibiting gun possession by illegal drug users, the state's forcible disarmament of medical marijuana users is an attempt to comply with federal law:

Todd Vandermyde, lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, said the NRA takes no position [no surprise there] on the issue but that the rule seems to be an attempt to interpret federal law. A U.S. Department of Justice firearm application form asks if the buyer is "an unlawful user" of marijuana or other controlled substances.

That, of course, begs the question of why the state apparently intends to do the feds' job when it comes to enforcing disarmament of patients and their caregivers, but is simultaneously willing to actively defy the federal government on the issue of legal marijuana in the first place.

It should be noted that these rules are still in the "proposed" stage, and that the Department of Public Health will be accepting public comments on the proposed rules through Friday, February 7.

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