Sheriff must give weapons permit to medical marijuana user, court rules

Posted: 9:45 AM May 19, 2011

The Oregon Supreme Court today ruled that Jackson County Sheriff Mike Winters must issue a concealed weapons permit to law-abiding residents who use medical marijuana.

Winters initially denied a concealed weapons permit to Cynthia Willis, citing the The U.S. Gun Control Act of 1968, which specifically forbids anyone who uses or is addicted to a controlled substance from having a firearm.

Willis admitted to using medical marijuana when she filed her application with the sheriff for a concealed weapons permit.

The Supreme Court didn’t agree with Winters legal argument.

“We hold that the Federal Gun Control Act does not preempt the state’s concealed handgun licensing statute and, therefore, the sheriffs must issue (or renew) the requested licenses,” the court ruled.

Winters denied Willis’ gun permit in 2008, arguing that granting the permit would violate federal laws prohibiting drug users from legally possessing guns.

Willis so far has won every legal battle against Winters, with the Jackson County Circuit Court and the Oregon Court of Appeals siding with her last year. After losing the Court of Appeals case, Winters granted Willis a concealed weapons permit while he pursed the appeal to the Supreme Court.

Willis volunteers with Patient Services, a nonprofit group that helps people obtain medical marijuana cards.

— Damian Mann

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