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Illinois medical marijuana rules drop gun language

Published: Thursday, April 17, 2014 11:11 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Ted S. Warren)
FILE - This Nov. 7, 2012 file photo shows a medical marijuana plant at a dispensary in Seattle. Tied to an unpopular president and his signature health care law, Democrats in the nationís largest swing-state see the prospect of legal medical marijuana as a rare source of hope and high voter turnout in this yearís midterm elections. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

CHICAGO – Illinois regulators finalizing the state's conditions for medical marijuana have removed a proposed rule that would have barred legal gun owners from becoming cannabis-using patients, a person close to the process told The Associated Press.

The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the draft regulations aren't expected to be published until Friday.

Some patients had said they would rather continue to use marijuana illegally rather than give up their firearms owners ID cards. The wording drew numerous complaints in public comments from gun owners who hoped to apply for medical cannabis cards. Many said their rights were being trampled.

The wording also would have affected caregivers applying for medical marijuana cards. Both patients and caregivers would have been required to certify their understanding of the conflict between gun ownership and medical marijuana use. The wording stemmed from an interpretation of federal law.

State Rep. Lou Lang, a Skokie Democrat, was a sponsor of the medical cannabis legislation and sits on the committee that will vote on the rules. He had said in February that he opposed the wording and would work to get the provision removed.

The news was greeted warmly by advocates for patients.

"Anything that makes it less burdensome for the patients is always a good thing," said Julie Falco of Chicago, who speaks openly about how she has used cannabis to control her pain from multiple sclerosis. "It never did make any sense."

The Illinois medical marijuana program is a four-year pilot project with some of the strictest standards in the nation

Several state agencies are developing the regulations for how marijuana will be grown and distributed to adult patients with certain qualifying health conditions. The rules will set fees for patients, dispensaries and cultivation centers and will lay out how entrepreneurs can apply for a limited number of licenses to grow or sell cannabis products.

The gun dispute centered on 93 words out of 48 pages of rules proposed by the Illinois Department of Public Health. The dropped wording had advised gun owners they'd be in violation of state and federal law if they were approved for a medical marijuana card and didn't give up their firearms. It said gun owners who obtained medical marijuana cards "may be subject to administrative proceedings by the Illinois State Police if they do not voluntarily surrender" their firearms owners ID cards or concealed carry permits.

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