The new year has brought legal weed to Illinois, and with it, plenty of questions. One of the state’s top gun lobbyists has set out to answer some of them.
On Tuesday, a day before the state’s new marijuana law took effect, the Illinois State Rifle Association posted a primer detailing the “difference between the purchase and use of Medical Cannabis and Recreational Cannabis as it relates to your lawful rights to own and possess a firearm in Illinois,” and to “dispel any myths or bad information that we have seen shared on various social media platforms as it relates to the cannabis law in Illinois.”
In the statement, ISRA lobbyist Ed Sullivan explained that, under the new state law, using cannabis would not make a prospective firearm owner an “unlawful user” of a controlled substance, despite marijuana remaining illegal at the federal level. Being an unlawful user of a controlled substance would otherwise be a disqualifier for such a purchase.
“If you believe in State’s rights, then according to Illinois law, you are not considered an unlawful user if you use or possess cannabis,” Sullivan wrote.
Sullivan also addressed concerns over cannabis dispensaries collecting data on customers — a longstanding fear for many gun owners who believe such data could in turn be used to deny them a firearm.
But citing the language in the statute, Sullivan said that the law makes clear that “no cannabis dispensary can share your personal information, unless you authorize them, to anyone or any entity,” including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives.
The primer did come with a crucial caveat: Sullivan emphasized that the information provided “should not be used as legal advice.”
“If you want to smoke cannabis recreationally (marijuana, weed, reefer) come January 1, 2020 that is your right,” Sullivan wrote. “If you don’t want to smoke cannabis, that is your right as well. We live in the United States of America which gives you a 1st amendment right to your opinion either way. Our mission here at ISRA is to protect your 2nd Amendment Rights.”
Legal Cannabis Starts Out Strong in Illinois
Customers turned out in droves on New Year’s Day to purchase marijuana from Illinois’ newly opened pot shops, with many flocking from neighboring states like Iowa and Indiana. The first day of sales saw more than 77,000 transactions generating nearly $3.2 million.
As part of the law, which was signed last summer by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Illinois has already pardoned more than 11,000 individuals previously convicted for non-violent cannabis offenses, a number that officials believe could ultimately swell to 116,000.