Some self-defense for medical providers after high court turns down handgun case

Posted on February 22nd, 2012 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , .

Two men wearing clown masks and wielding handguns burst into the Creme de Canna medical marijuana dispensary in Santa Cruz Feb. 2, forcing employees to turn over the contents of the safe before fleeing. The hit mirrors one on Dec. 15, when two men wearing carnival masks held up the city's Herbal Cruz dispensary. (San Jose Mercury News, Feb. 2) The heists come amid growing concerns about gunplay in the West Coast cannabis industry, exacerbated by the frequent refusal of local authorities to issue concealed handgun permits to medical marijuana users. Such policies by mostly rural counties on the West Coast and elsewhere were dealt a blow by the US Supreme Court's recent refusal to hear an appeal of a lower court decision upholding the rights of permit-holders who use cannabis legally under state law.

The case concerned Cynthia Willis of Gold Hill, Ore., a retired school bus driver and longtime concealed handgun permit holder. Willis was refused a renewal of her permit by the Jackson County Sheriff's Office on the grounds that she a is a registered medical marijuana user. In 2008, Willis went to court over the matter.

Jackson County Sheriff Mike Winters argued that issuing the license would violate federal law—specifically the Gun Control Act of 1968, which forbids anyone who uses or is "addicted" to a controlled substance from possessing a firearm. A court initially ruled for Willis, but the sheriff appealed. When Willis prevailed again, Winters went to the Oregon Supreme Court. The state's highest court also agreed with the lower courts, finding that the 1968 law gives the states authority to set their own rules for gun ownership and concealed weapons permits.  Winters then had the county legal team take the case to the US Supreme Court. In early January, the federal high court declined to hear the case, along with a similar gun-permit case from Washington County, Ore. Winter was forced to provide concealed handgun licenses to Willis and other medical marijuana patients.

NORML attorney Lee Berger, well-known activist lawyer in Oregon, saw the case from the lower courts on up. He said he hopes this message from the Supreme Court will force other sheriffs to respect the rights of medical marijuana patients. The case has cost Jackson County about $50,000 in legal fees. (Opposing Views, Jan. 12)

Photo by the Mad Pothead 



ATF memo bars gun sales to medical users

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In a memo released in September, the Justice Department notified federally licensed firearms dealers that under the law, medical marijuana patients are "addicts" or "unlawful drug users" who cannot legally own weapons or ammunition. A medical marijuana registration card is proof enough to deny a weapons sale, the memo said. The memo sparked an outcry from medical marijuana advocates, but national gun rights groups were largely silent.

The memo was written by Arthur Herbert, assistant director for enforcement programs at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF). Herbert said he wrote the memo after receiving "a number of inquiries about the use of marijuana for medical purposes, and its applicability to federal firearms laws." (Drug War Chronicle, Sept. 28)


Comment by Global Ganja Report on Feb 27th, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Feds indict grower in self-defense case

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A Washington state man who authorities say shot and killed two masked, armed intruders at his marijuana grow operation last year has been indicted on federal drug and gun charges. Jeremy Peter Capodanno pleaded not guilty at an April 18 court hearing in Tacoma. US Judge Ronald Leighton ordered Capodanno held in custody. Trial was set for June 21.

Police said  Capodanno  shot and killed two men who broke into his Puyallup garage last Dec. 6, the day marijuana possession by adults became legal under state law. His 7-year-old son was home at the time. The Pierce County prosecutor's office determined that Capodanno acted in self-defense in the shootings.

The indictment accuses him of manufacturing marijuana under federal law as well as firing and possessing guns during a drug crime. (AP, April 18)


Comment by Global Ganja Report on Apr 20th, 2013 at 1:54 am

Court uphelds ban on gun sales to marijuana card holders

Global Ganja Report's picture A federal appeals court has upheld the government's ban on the sale of guns to medical marijuana card holders. The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals said the ban does not violate the Second Amendment. The ruling applies to the nine Western states that fall under the court's jurisdiction, including California, Washington and Oregon. It came in a lawsuit filed by S. Rowan Wilson, a Nevada woman who tried to buy a firearm in 2011 after obtaining a medical marijuana card. The gun store refused, citing the federal rule on the sale of firearms to illegal drug users. (KFSN)
Comment by Global Ganja Report on Sep 1st, 2016 at 8:59 pm

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