Over the weekend, a friend asked me if his concealed weapons permit would make him ineligible for a medical marijuana card. The answer is…it depends on what county of Oregon you live in. Apparently, a unique phenomenon is occurring in certain areas of Oregon; County Sheriffs are denying concealed weapons permits if the applicant is a medical marijuana cardholder (see attached story). In Washington County and Jackson County, the Sheriff’s offices took it upon themselves to revoke concealed weapons permits if they found out the applicant was a member of the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP). In the case of Steven Schwerdt, he had a concealed weapon permit for six years, until Washington County revoked his license due to his new enrollment in OMMP. It doesn’t appear that this is happening anywhere else in the nation, except these two counties in Oregon.
The Sheriff’s claim that they are just enforcing federal law, which prohibits issuing concealed weapon permits to drug addicts. Attorneys for the revoked gun permit owners point to the fact that federal laws do not trump state concealed weapon laws. I would point to the case of US v. Lopez (1995), which essentially stated that the feds overreached their boundaries by trying to use the Commerce Clause to regulate firearms. Their argument in this case would be no different. Lawyers on behalf of state sovereignty will point to the fact that counties are creations of the states in which they reside, which means that they are enforcing state laws, not federal laws. The ATF recently issued policy statements saying that federal laws trump any state laws in the area of firearms. However, Montana and Tennessee have already passed Firearms Freedom Acts to establish that intrastate firearms issues are a state police powers issue, and more states are in the process.
According to the article, and based off my own independent research, it appears that these two counties in Oregon are the only areas in medical marijuana states that are having this issue. To quote the article, "It's kind of unique to Oregon that a couple of sheriffs there seem to want to defer to federal law when they really ought to be looking at enforcing state laws," Allen St. Pierre, NORML's executive director, said in an interview from Washington, D.C.
From what I can tell, the Appellate Court of Oregon has yet to issue an opinion in this case. So the lower court rulings stand, which means that as of right now, you have the right to get a permit and a card. This is backed up by two lower court rulings (I believe one in Jackson County and one in Washington County), so pack heat and safely medicate with confidence. However, I can’t caution enough, THIS IS NOT THE END OF THIS BATTLE. THIS SUCKER COULD GO ALL THE WAY TO THE US SUPREME COURT. Rest assured that Johnny Green and TheWeedBlog.Com is monitoring this area of marijuana policy, and we will report back when there is a change!
p.s. — Could you imagine, NORML and the NRA teaming up for the same cause…Wild.