SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

The Nation

April 4, 2011

Medical marijuana users fight for gun rights

WHITE CITY, Ore. — Cynthia Willis calls up and down the firing range to be sure everyone knows she is shooting, squares up in a two-handed stance with her Walther P-22 automatic pistol and fires off a clip in rapid succession.

Willis is not only packing a concealed handgun permit in her wallet, she also has a medical marijuana card. That combination has led the local sheriff to try to take her gun permit away.

She is part of what is considered the first major court case in the country to consider whether guns and marijuana can legally mix. The sheriffs of Washington and Jackson counties say no. But Willis and three co-plaintiffs have won in state court twice, with the state's rights to regulate concealed weapons trumping federal gun control law in each decision.

With briefs filed and arguments made, they are now waiting for the Oregon Supreme Court to rule.

When it's over, the diminutive 54-year-old plans to still be eating marijuana cookies to deal with her arthritis pain and muscle spasms, and carrying her pistol.

"Under the medical marijuana law, I am supposed to be treated as any other citizen in this state," she said. "If people don't stand up for their little rights, all their big rights will be gone."

A retired school bus driver, Willis volunteers at a Medford smoke shop that helps medical marijuana patients find growers, and teaches how to get the most medical benefit out of the pound-and-a-half of pot that card carriers are allowed to possess. She believes that her marijuana oils, cookies and joints should be treated no differently than any other prescribed medicines. She said she doesn't use them when she plans to drive, or carry her gun.

"That's as stupid as mixing alcohol and weapons,"' she said.

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