Illinois Won't Revoke FOID Cards For Pot Use, But Federal Issues Remain

I write a lot about the state of Illinois, and rarely ever in a particularly good light. After all, this is a pro-gun site and Illinois…is not.

However, a recent decision by the state may well be the most pro-gun thing it has ever done. You see, the state recently legalized recreational marijuana. The problem is that federal law still classifies pot as an illegal substance, something that’s not likely to change any time in the near future. As such, technically, federal law also prohibits people who use pot to own firearms.

We’ve seen other places latch onto that and to try to use it to take guns from law-abiding citizens because they use a substance that the state has legalized, but the feds haven’t.

Illinois, however, has decided not to go that route.

Cannabis consumers in Illinois, where state-licensed marijuana dispensaries started serving recreational customers yesterday, will pay more in taxes than cannabis consumers in most other states that have legalized pot. But at least they do not have to worry that the state police will be coming for their guns, thanks to protections included in the 2019 law that allows adults 21 or older to purchase and use marijuana.

A cannabis consumer who possesses a gun is committing a federal felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. A cannabis consumer who answers “no” to the question about illegal drug use while buying a gun is committing another federal felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.

Illinois likewise prohibits anyone who has used an illegal drug during the past year from obtaining a firearm owner’s identification (FOID) card, which is required to legally own a gun in that state. But the Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, which the state legislature passed last year, says “a person shall not be considered an unlawful user…solely as a result of his or her possession or use of cannabis or cannabis paraphernalia in accordance with this Act.” This week the Illinois State Police (ISP), which oversees the FOID program, confirmed in a Facebook post that, notwithstanding news reports to the contrary, it will not revoke cards “based solely on a person’s legal use of adult use cannabis.”

The ISP added that it “will revoke FOID cards where it is demonstrated that an individual is addicted to or is a habitual user of cannabis” (whatever that means). It also warned that “the use of cannabis is still considered to be illegal by the Federal government,” and “the purchase of a firearm from a federally licensed firearms dealer is governed by Federal law.” So are the possession of firearms and purchases from private sellers, although the ISP did not mention that.

Despite the vague nature of their response, a response Cam touched on earlier this week (or last year, depending on how you want to look at it), it’s still the most pro-gun thing we’ve ever heard out of Illinois.

Of course, this is also Illinois.

What I mean by that is with this vague response by the ISP, there’s a whole lot of opportunity for anti-gun shenanigans against pot-smoking gun owners. As such, it behooves anyone wishing to toke up to be very, very careful going forward because the state may well be looking for any excuse it can find to crack down on gun owners.

In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if some legislators voted for the law in hopes that they could use it to bust some gun-owning skulls in due course.

Yeah, it’s ultimately a pro-gun position, but it’s only accidentally pro-gun. It was more of a “pro-pot” move, but we’ll take what we can get from the Land of Lincoln.

Still, the official stance by Illinois is a surprising but promising development. Who knows, maybe it’ll open up other pro-gun doors down the road.