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Supreme Court: Oregon Marijuana Patients Can Keep Their Guns



Concealed handgun owners with Oregon medical marijuana authorizations will be allowed to
 keep their gun licenses after a U.S. Supreme Court decision not to hear a sheriff’s legal
 challenge which claimed U.S. federal law trumps Oregon state law.


      Return To OnlinePot’s Legal Section Main Page  


     Groups Outraged After Feds Say Medical Pot Users Can’t Buy Guns Or Ammo 



By Steve Elliott ~alapoet~ 
Thursday, January 12, 2012 at 10:20 am


Concealed handgun owners with Oregon medical marijuana authorizations will be allowed to keep their gun licenses after a U.S. Supreme Court decision not to hear a sheriff’s legal challenge which claimed U.S. federal law trumps Oregon state law.

Putting the case behind her is a victory for the rights of medical marijuana patients throughout Oregon, according to Gold Hill resident Cynthia Willis, 54, reports Damian Mann of the Southern Oregon Mail Tribune.

"Just because we’re patients doesn’t mean we don’t have real lifestyles and rights like everyone else," Willis said.

Jackson County Sheriff Mike Winters had denied Willis a concealed handgun license back in 2008 because she uses medical marijuana, which is considered a Schedule I controlled substance, along with heroin and LSD, by the federal government.

The sheriff claimed he couldn’t give the gun license to Willis because that would violate the Gun Control Acte of 1968.

The Daily Caller
Cynthia Willis shows off her Walther P-22 pistol. She sued the Jackson County Sheriff to get her concealed handgun license back after being denied because she’s a medical marijuana patient.

Sheriff Winters lost every court case at every step of the process — in Jackson County Circuit Court, the Oregon Court of Appeals and the Oregon Supreme Court.

The sheriff appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court in July, but has already issued concealed handgun licenses to Willis and other medical marijuana patients as a result of the earlier court rulings.

The Supreme Court also decided this week not to hear a similar case from the sheriff in Washington County.

This should send a message to Sheriff Winters and others in law enforcement to respect the rights of medical marijuana patients, said Portland attorney Leland Berger.

"The problem is the sheriffs hate the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act," Berger said. "They find ways to discriminate against patients."

The decision by the Supreme Court not to hear the case doesn’t necessarily mean they agree with the lower court decision in Oregon, according to Ryan Kirchoff, attorney for the sheriff and Jackson County.

Sheriff Mike Winters claimed he couldn’t give a gun license to Willis because that would violate the federal Gun Control Act of 1968.

Kirchoff said the county is disappointed the case didn’t move forward. "The sheriff feels that at this point he’s done everything that had to be done to rectify the problem," Kirchoff said. "There is nothing further that can be done to resolve this particular issue until state law is changed or there is further direction from the Supreme Court."

The sheriff has said he believes federal law clearly states that using marijuana — even medicinally — means a person cannot legally acquire or possess firearms.

"Hey, I have an idea — why don’t we leave people alone until they cause a problem?" offered "Darryl57," one commenter on the Mail Tribune story. "Has anyone proven that pot causes people to misuse handguns? No. Do we know for a fact that there have been many, many handgun murders committed by people who misuse alcohol? Yes. Enough of trhis stupid game. Voters, you have some work to do."

"This is Oregon, not South Carolina, Mississippi, or Alabama," Darryl57 said. "We actually know how to read the Constitution and will uphold it. Freedom. Get used to it, cause we ain’t let tin’ it go."

But Oregon’s law does seem contradictory. A concealed handgun license can be issued to medical marijuana patients who are law-abiding citizens, but state law doesn’t allow the sale of a weapon or ammunition to medical marijuana patients.

Willis said she already had her Walther P-22 pistol before she became a medicinal cannabis patient.

"My Walther was an anniversary present from my husband," she said. "I got this before all of this started happening."

She said there is no evidence that medical marijuana patients abuse gun rights more than any other segment of the population.

"We had a former Vice President who shot someone in the face, and he didn’t get into any trouble," Willis said, referring to former Vice President Dick Cheney.