MINNEAPOLIS, MN — Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Ed Ehlinger has announced that autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and obstructive sleep apnea have been added to the list of qualifying conditions approved for treatment with medical marijuana in Minnesota. “Any policy decisions about cannabis are difficult due to the relative lack of published scientific evidence,” said […]
ST. PAUL, MN — State health regulators in Minnesota have decided to expand the state’s medical cannabis program to include patients diagnosed with autism and sleep apnea. Advocates petitioned health officials to add the two new qualifications, as well as several other diagnoses – such as anxiety – that regulators ultimately rejected. Health officials also denied requests to expand the program to […]
Image by Duncan Brown (Cradlehall)
Don’t tell the police, but we’re growing cannabis in our garden!
However, it’s all accidental, as we haven’t planted it ourselves. Instead we reckon it must come in the packets of bird food that we put out on the bird table.
No wonder the birds are flying high! Sorry, awful pun!
1 Charge Dropped against Minnesota Mom Who Gave Son Cannabis Oil
A judge has dismissed one of two charges against a Minnesota woman who gave her son cannabis oil for chronic pain. Judge Thomas Van Hon tossed out a charge of child endangerment against Angela Brown of Madison. Brown still faces a charge of …
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It’s time to get real about marijuana laws in the state of Minnesota. Passing a medical marijuana law will, in all likelihood, be the first step in total legalization of the drug for recreational use, just as it has proved to be in Colorado and Washington and soon will in California and other states.
Why not go there now? Most Americans think marijuana is a tightly controlled substance in DEA Schedule I, the most addictive class of drugs, they believe, based on good scientific and medical evidence. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Whether the use of a drug is considered abuse or not is determined by society, not by health care professionals. Why else would tobacco and alcohol use be legal in the United States when these are both known to be harmful? In fact, the World Health Organization considers alcohol to be the most dangerous drug in the world, yet it and tobacco are completely legal to use by anyone over the ages of 21 and 18, respectively. However, go to an Islamic country and you’ll find that consumption of alcohol is considered drug abuse because society has deemed it so.
From our own country’s past we have learned that prohibition as a solution to a perceived drug problem (alcoholism) didn’t work, and we had to amend the Constitution a second time (21st Amendment in 1933) to undo the damage caused by the 18th Amendment in 1919, which prohibited the manufacture or sale of alcohol within the United States. The reason was practical. We recognized that people are willing to do almost anything to get a product they want, even if it means breaking the law.
During the 14 years of Prohibition, drinking still went on and burgeoning underground illegal sources filled the need. Actual criminals became rich, while ordinary citizens became criminals. Many hundreds of millions of dollars were spent on law enforcement to fix a problem that was unfixable. For sensible reasons, the country changed its mind on Prohibition, and alcohol became a regulated and taxable product.
During this entire time, the medical hazards of alcohol had not changed one iota. What had changed was society’s attitude toward the issue.
We are at the same point again when it comes to the use of marijuana. Poll after poll shows that a majority of Americans are in favor of legalized pot.
The major argument against legalization has always been that marijuana is a gateway drug to harder, more dangerous drugs, such as cocaine and heroin. Ask any user of those drugs what illegal drug they first used and they will tell you: marijuana. But the reverse is not true. Not every user of marijuana moves on to harder drugs. Look at it another way. Every alcoholic began by drinking socially, but only a small percentage of people who drink beer or wine or who have an occasional cocktail become alcoholics.
Another argument, the one put forth by Dr. Borchardt in a Star Tribune article (“Doctors split on medical use of marijuana,” March 4) is that it is dangerous to the developing brains of young people. I agree, and I think that — as with alcohol — the retailing of marijuana should be limited to adults over age 21. However, it should be available for younger individuals for specific medical reasons, as it appears to have at least some medical utility for a number of conditions.
I know many people will disagree with me for various reasons, including the argument that we shouldn’t legalize another “dangerous” drug; what will come next, legalization of heroin and cocaine and LSD? The reality is that someday society’s views on these drugs may change as well, and they might become legal. But I suspect that is not going to happen during my lifetime.
On the other hand, how will you deal with it if society decides that caffeine is a dangerous drug, and your daily latte becomes illegal? I guarantee you’ll be looking to get your fix from some underground, completely illicit equivalent of Starbucks and making a new group of criminals even richer.
Leonard Lichtblau is an associate professor in the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy. The opinions expressed here are solely his own.
It’s too late to push a bill through this session, but about 40 legislators in both parties, including more than a dozen committee chairmen, sent a strong signal that they want to add Minnesota to the 18 states where marijuana can be legally prescribed.
Legislators passed the legalization of medical marijuana in 2009, but were stopped by Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who vetoed the bill.
Now they’re ready to try again, in part because of such Minnesotans as Joni Whiting, of Jordan. Whiting watched as her 26-year-old daughter, Stephanie Whiting Stradinger, endured surgeries for malignant melanoma that ate away her face and ultimately took her life. There was just one thing, Whiting said, that eased her daughter’s suffering, and getting it meant her entire family had to break state law.
“They cut her face off, one inch at a time, until there was nothing left to cut,” Whiting said at a Thursday news conference, holding up a picture of Stradinger, smiling and lovely. She then covered it with a later photo of her daughter, her face flayed open and raw from treatments for the melanoma that started to grow on her cheek during her third pregnancy.
“The pain she was experiencing was unimaginable and the nausea was so severe that it became difficult for her to eat,” Whiting said. “That was when a doctor at the hospital pulled me aside and told me that Stephanie might benefit from using marijuana.”
The legislation proposed Thursday would allow doctors or other medical professionals to write prescriptions for up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for patients with “debilitating” medical conditions. Those conditions include cancer, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma and post-traumatic stress.
The marijuana would be available through licensed dispensaries that would grow the drug on site in locked greenhouses. Patients in remote areas could be licensed by the state to grow a small number of marijuana plants for their own use.
But is a state that doesn’t allow wine sales in grocery stores ready to legalize marijuana dispensaries?
The issue is not one that breaks along party lines.
Like Pawlenty, DFL Gov. Mark Dayton opposes legalization, and for the same reason — law enforcement agencies are firmly against it.
Rep. Carly Melin, DFL-Hibbing, is a chief sponsor in the House, joined by Republican Rep. Tom Hackbarth, of Cedar. For Hackbarth, the cause is painfully personal. His wife is terminally ill.
“It’s a matter of the quality of life in the final days for me,” Hackbarth said. “We’re introducing it now so we can gain support, talk to legislators and then really hit the ground running when the session starts next year.”
But even if the House and Senate pass a bill to legalize medical marijuana next year, they face a formidable obstacle in the governor’s office.
“The governor will not be able to support the legalization of medical marijuana as long as law enforcement is opposed,” Dayton spokeswoman Katharine Tinucci said. “If advocates are able to reach an agreement with law enforcement, the governor would consider the measure.”
Police officials remain deeply skeptical. Legal marijuana greenhouses won’t make the job of clamping down on illegal drug use any easier, they warn.
“It is an absolute regulatory and enforcement nightmare,” said Dennis Flaherty, executive director of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association. “We are not convinced that there really is a medicinal purpose to marijuana. … We see marijuana as a harmful drug and a gateway drug.”
But Whiting doesn’t want the governor to wait until law enforcement officials are on board with medical marijuana. Smoking the drug, she said, was the only thing that gave her daughter relief before her death in 2003 at age 26.
“He’s the governor and he should lead,” she said. “It’s his responsibility to lead, and then it’s law enforcement’s responsibility to do what he says.”