Illinois residents who choose to use medical or recreational cannabis will not have to give up their constitutional right to bear arms, according to the Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA).
One day before adult-use cannabis became legal in Illinois, the ISRA released a primer aiming 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.”
“If you want to smoke cannabis recreationally (marijuana, weed, reefer) come January 1, 2020 that is your right,” writes Ed Sullivan, ISRA lobbyist and former Illinois state lawmaker. “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.”
Federal law specifically prohibits any user of a controlled substance, including cannabis, from owning a firearm. Numerous states have threatened to revoke medical marijuana users' firearm licenses due to this law, but few states have actually followed through on their threats.
Sullivan notes that anyone wishing to legally buy a gun must attest to the fact that they're not an “unlawful user” of marijuana or any other controlled substance. However, Illinois' adult-use law specifically states that an adult Illinois cannabis consumer cannot be considered “an unlawful user or addicted to narcotics solely as a result of his or her possession or use of cannabis.” Sullivan writes that “if you believe in State’s rights, then according to Illinois law, you are not considered an unlawful user if you use or possess cannabis.”
The ISRA received confirmation from the Illinois State Police that cops will not revoke Firearm Owners' Identification (FOID) cards solely over the possession or use of cannabis. That said, police officials separately announced a number of restrictions to this policy. For example, police still reserve the right to revoke the FOID card of anyone who violates the state's adult-use cannabis rules and regulations.
Federal and state laws also give Illinois cops the right to revoke the FOID card of anyone who they decide is a habitual user or "addict" of cannabis — a policy that gives cops a lot of leeway to revoke gun rights from weed users at their own discretion.
The IRSA also dispels another online myth claiming that pot shops will turn gun owners' personal data over to the feds, resulting in the revocation of their gun licenses. Sullivan explains that this is not likely, as Illinois law explicitly prevents dispensaries from sharing personal data with any entity, including state and federal law enforcement, without the buyer's consent.
Medical marijuana users do not have the same level of protection, however. Because Illinois treats cannabis as a prescribed drug, the federal government is able to gain access to patients' records. Sullivan recommends that Illinoisans who wish to use medical cannabis and own firearms should consider purchasing their weed at adult-use stores instead.