Officials writing the regulations for Illinois' nascent medical marijuana program have decided that medical marijuana cancels out the Second Amendment. According to the proposal, a registered medical marijuana patient would have to give up ownership of any firearms, even if the patient has a state firearm owner's ID card or even a concealed carry permit.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) has long been a defender of Second Amendment rights. In the past, it has fought for the right of blind people to own handguns and even the right to hunt wild game. The NRA has proposed arming schoolteachers in response to the school shootings that happen with alarming regularity. The NRA has fought to keep open the so-called "gun show loophole" where people can buy firearms in private purchases not subject to the background checks that supposedly keep criminals and the mentally ill from owning a gun.
But when it comes to disarming a pot smoker, the NRA is curiously quiet. NRA lobbyist Todd Vandermyde told the Chicago Tribune the NRA "takes no position on the issue". Really? The NRA freaks out at the prospect of universal background checks supported by over 90 percent of the public, for fear of gun owners being on a government list that leads to gun confiscation, but they have no position on medical marijuana patients being on a government list that leads to gun confiscation?
In my home state of Oregon, we had to fight this same battle, not with the regulators writing rules for medical marijuana, but with the county sheriffs who hate marijuana smokers. A few sheriffs here decided that since federal law prohibits the possession of guns by "habitual drug users", medical marijuana patients couldn't get a concealed carry permit. Our lawyers fought that interpretation all the way to the Supreme Court, which decided that county sheriffs are in the business of enforcing state laws, not federal laws, and must issue the permits.
During the fight, I reached out to representatives from the NRA and I got the same "no position" response. Apparently if you're a blind hunter, a convicted felon, or an aspiring school shooter, the NRA will support your Second Amendment rights, but not if you're some disabled pot smoker using medicine legally in your home state. Oh well, it's not as if you have some sort of valuable black market commodity that criminals would invade your home over...
The NRA's not the only issue organization that freezes up as soon as pot is involved in their issue. You've probably read story after story about cops shooting family dogs during marijuana investigations. Rarely is the shot fired in self-defense from a pit bull lunging to attack; I've covered cops who've shot corgis, terriers, dachshunds, and just last week I covered a cop who shot a puppy that was sniffing at his ankle. But try and get a statement from PETA, ASPCA, or the Humane Society on these needless canicides and you'll get the same "we take no position" response. I even contacted Bill Maher - probably the most famous PETA board member who's also a famous stoner - and got nothing in return.
There is still time to comment on the Illinois medical marijuana rules by emailing DPH.MedicalCannabis@illinois.gov.
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