On April 17, the Illinois House of Representatives passed HB 1, the “Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program.” One month later, the Senate followed suit. The bill was sent to Governor Quinn’s desk on June 5, which means that if he wants to veto it, he must do so by Sunday. That is not expected, and there is, in fact, some expectation that he will sign it into law as early as today. Others expect him to do nothing, and allow it to become law by default.
If, as expected, it does become law, it will be, just like the state’s new “shall issue” concealed carry permit law, the most restrictive in the nation (Illinois politicians are certainly careful not to risk letting the serfs enjoy an excess of freedom). Looking at the text of the bill, one notices that the Illinois State Police will play a large role in administering the law, including background checks on all applicants for the program’s registration card.
The ISP, remember, is also the agency that issues and administers the state’s Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card, required to purchase or possess firearms and ammunition (and will also–eventually–administer the state’s concealed carry permit system). The medical marijuana law only mentions firearms in the context of offenses that would disqualify a would-be medical marijuana user.
Still, to believe that the ISP, with their database of legal gun owners, and their access to the state’s database of legal marijuana users, would not cross reference the two lists in order to determine who is both a gun owner and marijuana user seems more than a little naive. Knowing Illinois, even sweeps and seizures (and arrests) would hardly be surprising. Additionally, lying on the FOID application is a Class 2 felony, and one of the questions is, “Are you addicted to narcotics?”
Granted, it is legitimately open to question whether cannabis can be considered a “narcotic” (it apparently is, according to the feds), or that even a regular user can be considered to be “addicted,” but one should probably count on the most restrictive interpretations on the part of Illinois’ system of “justice.”
At the federal level, of course, there is not even the thin shield of that level of ambiguity. ATF Form 4473, which must be filled out for every gun purchase from a licensed dealer, asks, “Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?” Federal law cares not one whit about Illinois’ medical marijuana law, and a medical marijuana user who answers “No” to that question can face prosecution for the additional crime of lying on the form.
This column has no interest in wading into the debate over the efficacy of cannabis as medicine. The intent here is to note that in Illinois, one can choose legal armed self-defense, or (probably, eventually) legal cannabis. If you decide you need both, though, at least one of the two had better be “off the books.”
Update: Governor Quinn signed the bill into law today.
- Administration’s mixed message on guns and medical marijuana sows confusion
- This may be why they call the stuff ‘dope’
- More about the medical marijuana shootout
- Pierce Co. prosecutor gets it right, ATF gets it wrong
- Oregon ‘high’ court: Medical pot users can have CCW permits
- ATF letter to FFLs makes it clear: No guns for pot users
- Legalized pot would provide no pass against federal gun law