The number #1 most asked question by MCPP patients has got to be Can I own a gun if I am an Illinois medical cannabis cardholder?
This is one of the most confusing rules of the IL MCPP. There are state laws and there are federal laws regarding medical cannabis usage. The state law allows Illinois medical cannabis patients to own guns, but the federal law does not. Cannabis usage of any kind is still considered to be illegal. So, the answer to the question is Yes and No. I know. You are probably still confused.
I decided to ask a friend, who is a fellow medical cannabis advocate and patient, to clear this up for me. He is a gun owner and an avid hunter. He has lived his entire life in rural southern Illinois. I knew he would have the answers for me.
According to the Illinois State Police (ISP), no rights of IL medical cannabis patients should be restricted per state law. However, since medical cannabis is still illegal on a federal level, federal trumps state law. If you apply for a gun at a store, as soon as they do a background check and see that you are a medical cannabis card holder, you will be denied. Some gun owners have a store policy in place where they simply deny cardholders outright and will not even do the federal background check. BTW, the denial comes from the ISP. The only way gun owners can buy a gun is through private sales.
However, if you already owned a gun(s) before you became a medical cannabis cardholder, you are not required to surrender them. But, you might not be able to purchase bullets for them. Some stores will sell you bullets and others will not. Different caliber bullets require different IDs or licenses. I discovered that those who own .22 caliber guns are not required to apply for a Firearm Owners Identification Card (FOID) card as long as the bullets travel less than 700 fps. Any gun with a higher caliber requires a card. There are different licenses for high powered guns and fully automatic weapons which are very costly. My friend believes that these costly licenses are a way for the state of Illinois to generate money and are penalizing gun owners with prohibitive licensing costs. Illinois has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country due to the violence in Chicago.
My friend told me that he is afraid to go hunting these days. If there were an accident, he feels his medical cannabis usage would be blamed. As he pointed out, it is common practice for deer hunters to drink alcohol while they are hunting. Although it is illegal, no one seems to have a problem with it. He feels his 2nd amendment rights are being violated. It would be so much simpler if the federal government would legalize all cannabis. Let’s hope that dream becomes a reality sooner rather than later.