US Marijuana Party

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Marijuana user can keep gun permit, OR
The Associated Press

HILLSBORO, Ore. (AP) — A Washington County judge ruled that a Beaverton man can hold a concealed handgun permit despite being a medical marijuana user.

Washington County Sheriff Rob Gordon revoked Steven Schwerdt's permit three months ago when Schwerdt indicated on a form that he had a medical marijuana card and frequently used the drug.

Judge Marco Hernandez said Monday that the county did not convince him that Schwerdt was violating a federal law that prohibits a habitual drug user or addict from possessing a firearm.

"The idea is that Congress did not want people who are under the influence to be buying or possessing guns," Leland R. Berger, Schwerdt's attorney, said after the hearing. "Here, the use is medicinal. I think the sheriff unfairly singles out medical marijuana users."

More than 11,000 Oregon residents have received state-issued medical marijuana registry cards since voters approved medical marijuana use in 1998.

Elmer Dickens, Washington County counsel, argued that the sheriff was following the U.S. Gun Control Act. He said the sheriff has taken away the concealed handgun licenses of four medical marijuana users.

Schwerdt, who has had a concealed handgun permit since 1997, said he received a medical marijuana card about a year ago to help relieve chronic pain from arthritis and other conditions related to his weight of more than 500 pounds.

Gordon denied targeting medical marijuana users. The concealed handgun form also asks applicants whether they are illegal immigrants, fugitives from the law, or whether they have been convicted of domestic violence or been dishonorably discharged from the armed forces. Under federal law, people who fall into those groups, as well as users of unlawful controlled substances, are prohibited from possessing guns.

"I can't license someone to carry a weapon that the federal government says they can't have in the first place," Gordon said. "The legislators have to get together and get some clarity on that."

Dickens said he has yet to decide whether to appeal.


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