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posted on 1/18/20

As of January 1, 2020, Illinois residents can legally purchase and use recreational amounts of marijuana and cannabis products. Many Illinois gun owners are concerned about how the new law will affect their gun ownership rights, if at all. On December 31, Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA) lobbyist Ed Sullivan released a controversial statement regarding recreational marijuana and gun ownership.

In the statement, Sullivan reported that the ISRA had confirmed that Illinois State Police will not revoke firearm identification cards based solely on an Illinois resident’s legal cannabis use. Marijuana is still illegal under federal law, which creates confusion among gun owners who use cannabis.

Background Checks for Purchasing Firearms

When Illinois residents seek to purchase a gun, they must first complete and submit a federal form or application. The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives requires gun purchasers to fill out ATF E-Form 3373. The form asks the following question:

Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance? Warning: The use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under Federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medicinal or recreational purposes in the state where you reside.

According to federal law, consuming or smoking cannabis makes a person an “unlawful user” of a federally prohibited controlled substance. Under Illinois’ new law, a person who consumes or smokes recreational cannabis is not an “unlawful user” of a controlled substance. The questions stands, which governments stance is law: the federal government’s interpretation, or the state of Illinois’ interpretation? Our government recognizes federalism or states’ rights to make decisions and hold their own self-determining laws on certain issues. With more states legalizing marijuana, we expect to see more lawsuits involving the conflict over whether states’ laws are determinative.

Illinois FOID Cards and Recreational Marijuana

We will set aside the issue of whether gun owners must answer “yes” to unlawful marijuana use on the required federal background check. We will examine the issue of seeking a FOID card. In order to purchase a firearm in Illinois, gun owners must possess a Firearm Owners Identification Card (FOID). Illinois State Police issue FOID cards. The ISRA has confirmed that Illinois law enforcement will not revoke FOID cards based solely on an individual’s legal use of cannabis.

Firearms owners have also feared that cannabis retailers and dispensaries will make their customers’ information available to the Illinois State Police. However, as Sullivan points out, Illinois law prohibits dispensaries from sharing personal or identifying information about a customer except as authorized by the law itself.

According to Illinois’ law, dispensaries cannot give customers’ information to anyone, including the state police or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Marijuana customer information cannot be placed in a state database because the state law does not create a state database.

We Can Help

If you have questions about Illinois’ new cannabis law or you have been charged with a drug-related crime, we can help. Contact the skilled criminal defense attorneys at Glasgow & Olsson to schedule your initial consultation today.