Oregon Supreme Court Affirms Gun Rights for Patients

May 19, 2011 , , , , , , , , , , ,

Back in January, this blog mentioned a case in which an anti-marijuana sheriff in Jackson County, Oregon, was trying to deny the renewal of a concealed handgun permit for Cynthia Willis, a licensed medical marijuana patient. The sheriff was so adamant about the case that he took it all the way to the Oregon Supreme Court. His primary argument was that granting a concealed handgun license to a patient (or in his terms, drug user) would be a violation of the Federal Gun Control Act. This law makes it illegal for anyone using or possessing an illegal drug to own or use a firearm. And of course, the federal government still considers marijuana in any form to be illegal.

Today, the court ruled unanimously that being a medical marijuana patient does not strip a person of his or her constitutional rights, at least as far as state law is concerned. From the court’s opinion:

Congress did not directly require the states to use their gun licensing mechanisms for the purpose of keeping guns out of the hands of marijuana users, and we conclude that Congress did not intend to achieve that same result by making it illegal for medical marijuana users to possess guns. The state’s decision not to use its gun licensing mechanism as a means of enforcing federal law does not pose an obstacle to the enforcement of that law. Federal officials can effectively enforce the federal prohibition on gun possession by marijuana users by arresting and turning over for prosecution those who violate it.

Ultimately, then, we reject the sheriffs’ contention that, to the extent that ORS 166.291 requires county sheriffs to issue CHLs to qualified applicants without regard to their use of medical marijuana, the statute is preempted by the federal prohibition on gun possession by marijuana users at 18 USC section 922(g)(3). The sheriffs cannot justify their denial of the applications at issue on that ground.

Basically, this means that because the Oregon gun licensing law does not substantially interfere with the ability of federal officials to enforce their gun control law, Oregon’s law is not pre-empted and is valid. The sheriff, being a state law enforcement official, must abide by state law and issue canceled handgun licenses to anyone who qualifies under Oregon law, even if that individual wouldn’t qualify under the federal scheme. Because being a medical marijuana patient is not grounds for refusal of a permit in Oregon, the sheriff must grant Ms. Willis’s concealed handgun permit even though she would still be liable under federal law for having a gun while using “illicit narcotics.”

Sound familiar?

It should. Check out the case of Gonzalez v. Raich (2005), which established that the federal government is free to enforce their marijuana laws despite California’s right to exempt medical marijuana users and caregivers from state criminal liability.



7 responses to “Oregon Supreme Court Affirms Gun Rights for Patients”

  1. Why should anyone have to defend there Constitutional RIGHTS because of a medical treatment ! They don’t take guns away from the people who are prescribed morphine in high doses and I would say someone on heavy doses of morphine daily would pose a far greater risk to society then a medical marijuana user!! Its time we stand up and fight for our rights!

  2. NEWS FLASH!!! I lost my fire arms over less than a gram of cannabis. Now because I said what I felt about a gov.from montana, I can no longer access my e-mail. AT ALL!! I cannot get yahoo’s help to resolve this. I cannot do anything. It is sad that A rich piece of shit should just not care. We fought the Brits over opression. The Egyptions can over throw a government and WE, in America cannot even get cannabis dreform. In my opinion, our gov’t is just a waste of my tax money. I do not, or ever did want one single penny of my taxes to fight the war on Americans by our dictatorship that forces innocent people to jail. And to MPP, why or how do you live with yourself for letting the gov’t control what we feel or say about some piece of shit elected official? I do not even live in Montana, Nor will I ever.

  3. We just lost our 4th amendment rights too!!!!
    Now if you are sitting on the toilet and a cop knocks on your door, mistaking your apartment for a drug dealer he’s looking for, and you flush the toilet, he can bust your door down without a warrant or probable cause. SCOTUS voted 8-1 .

  4. Keeping cannabis illegal while tobacco and alcohol are legal is like telling a little kid “You can have this shotgun, but you can’t have the water pistol”.

  5. From the Huffington Post:


    Like the earlier pardons, the latest did not involve anyone well-known. The cases date back as far as 1975, when:

    1.)Randy Eugene Dyer of Burien, Wash., was sentenced to serve five years in prison in the conspiracy to import marijuana and two related crimes.

    2.) Christine Marie Rossiter of Lincoln, Neb., sentenced in 1992 to three years of probation for conspiring to distribute less than 110 pounds of marijuana.

    Two out of eight pardons to marijuana offenses! I am having a hard time understanding the direction the White House is taking.

    We had another DEA raid on Friday, so this all makes no sense.

    They, the DEA, “collected” ANOTHER $1.2 MILLION!!! No charges, just smash and grab!

    UPDATE: Friday, May 20, DEA Raid at a Helena Dispensary

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *