The chief stumbling block for the legalization of any kind of hemp--be it industrial hemp (a.k.a. ditch weed), medical marijuana or recreational smoke--is the insistence by the Minnesota Law Enforcement Coalition that any move to legalize it will turn Minnesota into the gateway state shrouded in a haze of crime and addiction.
The coalition, which represents the Minnesota County Attorneys Association, Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association, the Minnesota State Associationof Narcotics Investigators,the Minnesota Sheriffs Association and the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, has posted its policy position and reason for it here.
In Q &A with Virginia (MN) Hometown Focus, Representive Carly Melin (DFL-Hibbing) suggests another reason for the opposition:
Q: Why do you believe MN’s law enforcement agencies are so adamantly opposed to medicinal marijuana?
A: There are many individual members of law enforcement who are supportive of medical marijuana. In fact, one of them is a co-author of the bill, Rep. Dan Schoen, state representative and police office fromCottage Grove, MN. Law enforcement in northeast Minnesota have discussed some flexibility, which is a lot further than we got with the statewide leaders. It is the head honchos and lobbyists down in St. Paul who are the problem. Marijuana being illegal is big business for law enforcement. The forfeiture of property relating to marijuana crimes brings in big revenue to law enforcement agencies. They are worried that legalizing medical marijuana is a step toward the decriminalization of marijuana, which in turn would impact their budgets. [emphasis added] I hope that isn’t the basis of their opposition to medical marijuana because there are sick Minnesotans in need of this medicine, but in my experience carrying this legislation they primarily express concerns that this will lead to the recreational use of marijuana.
To be sure, the news feed in Minnesota and elsewhere is filling with heart-breaking stories of young children with Dravet Syndrome, a cruel form of epilepsy that strikes children. The most promising treatment is Charlotte's Web, a variety of medical medicine that's low in THC, the compound that creates a buzz, but rich with another compound, CBD, that addresses the seizures, while increasing cognitive ability in some cases.
But the focus on Dravet Syndrome sufferers creates as disingenuous a lacuna for legalization supporters as the stealth financial incentive does for those who oppose changes in hemp laws. Bluestem would be more comfortable with a consideration of medical marijuana that wasn't pinned on this thin slice of the industry that so helps such innocent children. Let's talk about the broad spectrum of people living with sickness and disease, shall we, and the range of medicial marijuana products that can aid their symptoms.
We support changing hemp laws, but we would like the discussion to go beyond the poster child level. Our gut reaction to the current PR blitz is to remember the early days of the AIDS/HIV debate, when children were positioned as innocent victims and the rest of people with HIV somehow less than human addicts and gay men (Bluestem's editor mourned them equally).
A public debate that implicitly clings to an analogous frame (or remains silent) about the range of potency of medical pot products and those served by them does a disservice in the long range, especially when three-fourths of the population supports legalization, already convinced of the efficacy of medical marijuana.
Photo: Rep. Carly Melin, DFL-Hibbing.
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