Friday, December 14, 2012

Medical Marijuana in trouble with new political realignment? Interesting.

With the DFL taking control of the legislature and the governor's office, I expect to see a lot of controversial issues come to the fore.  One is medical marijuana which had some traction in the legislature when it was previously controlled by the DFL but ultimately didn't go anywhere because then Governor Pawlenty opposed it.

Now fast forward to 2013.  It looks like it will now have problems with Governor Dayton who says he won't sign it if it doesn't have law enforcement support.

According to the Star Tribune,
Supporters of medical marijuana face a tough road in Minnesota where Gov. Mark Dayton has said he won't sign anything relaxing the state's drug laws without the backing of law enforcement officials, who are showing no signs of budging.

"Our position is unchanged. We do not support the legalization of marijuana for any purpose," said Dennis Flaherty, executive director of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association. "It's illegal on the federal level and we're not going to support any legislation that would put us in conflict with ... federal law."

Proponents say they plan to push for legalized medical marijuana in 2013 anyway, arguing that medical decisions should be left to doctors rather than police. They say the public mood is shifting in their favor. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes, and Colorado and Washington recently legalized marijuana possession for adults with small amounts of the drug.
 Proponents say it will be tightly regulated but there will be easy access.  My translation is most anybody who wants it can get it.  As in other states some doctors will sign off on it with very few questions asked. 
Tom Lehman, a lobbyist for the Marijuana Policy Project, said Minnesota's proposal would have safeguards, including patient photo identification.

"We want it very tightly controlled. We want it very tightly regulated. And we want easy access at the same time," Lehman said. "There are no secret agendas here."
 But law enforcement isn't on board.
"As long as they oppose it, I just don't see any possibility that it will pass in Minnesota," said Charlie Weaver, former Department of Public Safety commissioner under Gov. Jesse Ventura and former chief of staff to Gov. Tim Pawlenty — who vetoed a medical marijuana bill in 2009, citing opposition from law enforcement.
 The record in other states shows it creates problems.
Law enforcement leaders say marijuana is an addictive gateway drug that is associated with violent crime and can lead to use of other illicit drugs. They also say states that have legalized marijuana have enforcement problems. They point to California, where federal authorities are cracking down on dispensaries. Flaherty says anyone there can get a buyer's card for just about any reason.
 Ultimately, medical marijuana is merely a stepping stone, in my opinion, to broader legalization.

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