Photo by Andrew Richards
Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons, center, and Sheriff Robert Hertz, right, speak to members of the RiverBend Growth Growth Association recently on new laws centering on the right to conceal and carry firearms and the use of medical marijuana. Illinois became the last state in the nation to legalize conceal and carry of firearms when it did so in July of last year, while medical marijuana was legalized Jan. 1, 2014.
EAST ALTON – If publicly packing heat is on your radar, medical marijuana should not be anywhere nearby.
So says Madison County Sheriff Robert Hertz on how the two laws centering on concealing and carrying a firearm and the use of medical marijuana overlap in the state of Illinois.
“If you decide to avail yourself of (medical marijuana), I know one of the regulations is it prohibits you from getting a conceal carry license,” Hertz said.
Hertz, along with State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons and two attorneys from the firm of Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontrard P.C. of Alton - Tom Long and Tom Berry - were part of a forum the River Bend Growth Association hosted on the two laws recently at the Highflyers Grille located near the Bethalto airport.
The forum was dedicated to informing the members of the RBGA on what to know involving conceal and carry and medical marijuana as it pertains to business owners.
Illinois takes slow draw
on conceal and carry law
Illinois was the last state nationwide to legalize the concealed carry law with the Firearm Concealed Carry Act taking effect July 9 of last year.
“I think what’s most important for private business owners is that the leadership of your company makes the determination concerning whether or not you are going to allow conceal and carry,” Gibbons said. “If you do not make the determination … the presumption under federal law in Illinois is that individuals who conceal and carry may enter your business.”
Something to follow for anybody wishing to carry concealed weapons – obtaining a concealed carry license is a must.
Hertz said one of the first steps to receiving a conceal carry license is registering on the Illinois State Police website, where they will check to see if you have been arrested. Local law enforcement officials and the Sheriff’s Department also have the ability to check your record.
“If you have ever been arrested, your application is going to be slowed up,” he said, “pending on the arrests and convictions and what day they hit, you will not be issued a conceal carry permit.”
As business owners, you also have the right to prohibit the carrying of firearms on your property, Hertz said.
Hertz showed a 4-by-6-inch laminated sign of a handgun with a red circle around it and a slash through it.
“If you are interested in keeping guns out your business, you have to have one of these signs,” he said, citing a place to download one would be ISP’s website.
Gibbons said without one of these official signs, a person carrying a conceal and carry license could legally bring a firearm on that owner’s property, whether they prohibit guns on the premises or not.
One question the crowd raised was: Could a person, who has the license and owns a firearm, bring the weapon onto a business owner’s parking lot even if they prohibit guns on their property?
Berry said the only way people carrying a license could carry it onto an owner’s lot – even one who might prohibit the carrying of guns on their property – is if the firearm is unloaded, concealed, and either in a vehicle’s glove compartment, case or locked container, or if the person is storing and/or retrieving the gun from within the trunk of a car.
2014 is the year
for medical marijuana
Medical marijuana officially became legal to prescribe to patients Jan. 1, 2014 after Gov. Pat Quinn signed and enacted The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act in August of last year.
“As long as the doctors are doing this right … as long as they have the prescription for it,” Hertz said, “the regulation is you have to get it through a dispensary sanctioned by the state of Illinois.”
The act – according to marijuanadoctors.com – establishes a patient registry program, protects registered qualifying patients and registered designated caregivers from ‘arrest, prosecution, or denial of any right or privilege,’ and allows for the registration of cultivation centers and medical marijuana dispensing organizations.
One of the concerns RBGA members had about the issue was employing somebody who might be medically taking cannabis for a condition unbeknownst to them.
Berry said the inquiry is conditional, saying federal laws set up to protect employees’ health conditions might deem the medical information the employer wants to know as “on a need-to-know basis.”
“We don’t need to know whether or not the applicant is suffering from Tourette’s syndrome on the application form,” he said.