Drug Law

Oregon Supreme Court: Medical Marijuana Patients Have Gun Rights

| by NORML

Great news from Oregon’s Supreme Court (as compared to SCOTUS!) regarding personal responsibility and liberty in ruling for a medical cannabis patient who was denied their full Second Amendment rights simply because they use cannabis.

The case was largely championed by NORML Legal Committee and Amicus chair Leland Berger of Portland and from legal counsel from the National Rifle Association.

Mr. Berger’s remarks are found below announcing the case on NORML’s network. The decision can be read here.

“To conclude: the sheriffs in this case are not excused from their duty under ORS 166.291(1) to issue CHLs to qualified applicants, without regard to the applicant’s use of medical marijuana, on the ground that issuance of CHLs to medical marijuana users would violate a federal prohibition on making false statements about the lawfulness of transferring firearms to such persons. Neither are the sheriffs excused from that statutory duty on the ground that it is preempted by federal law. The sheriffs were without authority to deny petitioner’s CHL applications.”

Full text of unanimous opinion, authored by the chief, issued 77 days after oral argument online here:


Many thanks to John Lucy, who has forgotten more obscure gun law (and facts) than I ever knew, to OPDS Appellate Section for meeting with John and I pre-argument for a discussion of potential questions, to Adelia Hwang for researching federal legislative history of the federal guncontrol act and to Kristin Stankiewicz for her research assistance onother issues; to Alan Silber of Roseland NJ for developing a judicialestoppel argument and to Bill Panzer of Oakland, CA for explaining it to me.

But mostly I am grateful for the courage of medical cannabis patients Paul Sansone, Steven Schwerdt, Eli Wallick and Cynthia Willis for standing up to the lawless Sheriffs of Washington and Jackson Counties, here in Oregon.


Lee Berger, Portland, OR

Associated Press coverage of the case is found here.