The details behind law enforcement's flip-flop on medical marijuana

marijuanaplant.jpg
Coleen Danger
Only a few months ago, Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom called a press conference to announce that "marijuana is not a medicine." It may come as a surprise, then, that the Minnesota Law Enforcement Coalition recently outlined for lawmakers the perimeters in which they could work with a medical marijuana bill.

Backstrom was unavailable for comment, but Pipestone County Sheriff Dan Delaney, another member of the Minnesota Law Enforcement Coalition, took our call.

"I'm not a doctor," Delaney explains, but if the medical community believes this could benefit patients, "Who am I to say that is wrong?"

This is essentially the same argument made by patients and caregivers. Delaney's statement confirms that, after years of folding their arms, the state's top cops and prosecutors are ready to talk. The next question is how to manage the program.

SEE ALSO: When will medical marijuana be legal in Minnesota?

Delaney says the medical marijuana bill as it stands is "too vague and too loose" in how it regulates distribution and cultivation.

The number of plants that qualifying patients could grow has already been cut from 12 to six. But that's six too many for law enforcement officials. They say they're concerned that those plants would make it to the black market and don't take a whole lot of consolation in the fact that diverting one's personal supply would be a felony.

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Pipestone Co Sheriff Dan Delaney
In January, Gov. Mark Dayton asked both sides to come to the table and settle on a bill they're all happy with. For that to happen, Delaney says, marijuana is going to have to be treated like other medications that have the potential for abuse.

"For example," the sheriff says, "opiates are used in the medical profession, but we don't allow the common individual to grow poppies and develop their own opiates from it."

Read the entire list of proposed changes here.

According to Jim Franklin, executive director of the Minnesota Sheriff's Association, the list was put together after certain lawmakers reached out and asked for it. It does not equal support for medical marijuana, he says. It was intended to carve out a middle path -- a way to stay neutral in the debate.

"I don't think we, as law enforcement, can support any type of a medical marijuana because, technically speaking, it's a violation of federal law," Franklin says, adding that any marijuana reform ought to come from Congress rather than individual state legislatures.

The list urges lawmakers to limit the qualifying conditions of medical marijuana patients to "seizures, late stage cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis or AIDS." It would restrict the use of marijuana to liquids, pills, and vapor -- in other words, no smoking allowed, even though that's how the majority of patients ingest it.

State Rep. Carly Melin, who's sponsoring the bill in the House, says she's puzzled by law enforcement's demands and worries that, if taken seriously, they would gut a bill that already accounts for their public safety concerns. She points out that law enforcement's vision of the program would prohibit doctors from prescribing marijuana to new chemo patients and would prohibit nurses from prescribing marijuana to anyone.

"What they put forward wouldn't help anyone," Melin says. "It's unworkable."

-- Follow Jesse Marx on Twitter @marxjesse or send tips to jmarx@citypages.com

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33 comments
Don Eaton
Don Eaton

I didn't elect "law enforcement" (cops) to make any decisions for me or this state. They do not make laws they are servants of the people of minnesota therefore, shut your mouth and do your job. When there is no more rapists, murderers and child molesters on the street them maybe I'll listen to you, but until then do...your...job..you're a cop nothing more. Your opinion doesn't mean anything to us. Stop being lazy or look for another profession.

dave
dave

They sure like to play doctor at the police station.  Also who elected them to write new laws?  I sort of thought we had an elected democratic government and not a bunch of policemen telling our lawmakers and governor how to do their part.

dave
dave

Police playing doctor is about as creepy as it gets.  Also who elected them to be our lawmaking representatives?  Separation of powers is very important! 

digitalprotocol
digitalprotocol topcommenter

PIPESTONE COUNTY!!!  these fkn hicks have no business creating or commenting on policy!


i mean c'mon pipestone county, gimme a break


green23
green23 topcommenter

"They say they're concerned that those plants would make it to the black market and don't take a whole lot of consolation in the fact that diverting one's personal supply would be a felony."

This is a ridiculous, unreasonable position. 

Taken to its logical conclusion, we should not allow any prescription drugs. After all, they might find their way into the black market. Suppose that we followed law enforcement's sage wisdom by prohibiting personal plants. What would guarantee that the State-supplied marijuana would not be diverted to the black market? 


Even during Prohibition, individuals were allowed to make wine for their own personal use. If they sold it or bartered it to others, they could be prosecuted. 


What the Minnesota Sheriff's Association has done is offer a 'compromise' that is not a compromise in any way. They still will oppose medical marijuana; that's clear in the article. You can't negotiate with a party that refuses to "give" on anything. At some point this will move forward, and the Minnesota Sheriff's Association will lose all of their leverage simply by being obstinate. 


If legislators think that this gives them any kind of "cover" to oppose the bill, then they are delusional.

Tanker10
Tanker10

Why are we even talking about this , Law enforcement should have NO say in how someone can use MM  or who should be aloud to use it .  

no.te.deje.agarrar
no.te.deje.agarrar

This is so infuriating. Why is law enforcement given the ONLY say on a MEDICAL issue? The only people with input into this conversation should be medical professionals and patients, period. 

And this business of only allowing it under extremely limited circumstances (cancer, AIDS, etc) is also complete crap. Marijuana is extremely effective for people with various non-terminal pain disorders, and doesn't have even a fraction of the mortality or addiction rate of opiates, which is usually what pain patients are given. I've known both potheads and oxy addicts in my life, and I'd rather spend my time with a pothead any day. Oxy addicts will steal, behave violently, develop paranoid delusions, and basically alienate everyone around them. Although weed obviously has its side effects, it is nothing compared to opiate side effects, particularly in the long term. The fact that medical literature doesn't have the final say in this legislation just proves that we are officially a nation of idiots.

Matt Connell
Matt Connell

Opiates have WAY more potential for abuse.

Dan Smith
Dan Smith

This is all unacceptable. Full legalization for adults now! Law enforcement's arguments against it are laughable. But if they were honest about their motives they'd have to admit it's all about being allocated big drug enforcement budgets and the lucrative practice of seizing and selling the assets of those arrested for dealing pot. If Dayton doesn't come around, don't vote for him.

alexjarvis88
alexjarvis88

If the Sheriff's opiates example is an indicator of how decisions are made in our government now, we are just seeing the beginning of a world of pain and suffering for American citizens.  Seriously...the Sheriff's logic as it is expressed here isn't even logic and it is definitely not scientific or diplomatic.  People in public decision making and influencing roles need to learn how to effectively gather accurate and relevant facts and data and stay focused on them and what they mean specifically, as well as their comparative value in regards to the issue when fulfilling the obligations associated with those roles.  Taking things out of context is no way to write laws and policies, either.


Private interests and opinions have no place in public policy.  Especially when there is evidence and data to negate those opinions and interests.  


I could care less whether Marijuana gets legalized as a mood influencing consumable, but I am all for the use of industrial hemp and I am terrified by the way the media portrays public policy negotiations.  That fault could just as easily go on deceptive writers who put their own reputations and incomes before accuracy of reporting so I'm not suggesting we place blame on the politicians.  We should look at what is happening and fix the errors that are confusing the public and leading to laws that don't make logical sense. 


I am saying the way that public policy making is portrayed in the media is terrifying because of how stupid it makes policy makers and influencers appear to be.

Tony Bones
Tony Bones

Wow. Thats why we shouldn't have dummies making decisions for our people. Anyone who compares opiates to marijuana are complete idiots. #TheFiRE

Paul Hendrickson
Paul Hendrickson

So the THC in a person's blood could fairly accurately say how high someone is?

Dan Mason
Dan Mason

Why does law enforcement have any say at all? Were they elected to the legislature? Maybe they should stick to writing tickets and responding to 911 calls.

CinBlueland
CinBlueland topcommenter

Just asking, but once this is legal, where are people going to smoke it? Can't have pot bars because someone (designated driver) would get high on second hand smoke. I mean we've spent the last what 40/50 years demonizing smokers and now we want to add another smoking product?

Jared Johnson
Jared Johnson

This is an election year for the good ole Gov. isnt it? Maybe he needs to start listening to the people who actually vote for him and not the "Top Cops"? This country is at 20 states and counting for this. It is time for MN to get this right.

Kirk Burback
Kirk Burback

Sheriff Joe Arpaio was in town last night, and he said, "I support medical marijuana. That should be a decision between a doctor and their patient."

Tony Wegleitner
Tony Wegleitner

This is the dumbest argument. Opiates are funded by the gov. And addiction is skyrocketing. I can't even handle the law enforcement and their statement about this issue anymore. Just make me sick for how stubborn older people still are and how scared they are to be wrong on something they were told was one way there whole life.

Tony Wegleitner
Tony Wegleitner

Yes they are able to test and tell how high you are.

Paul Hendrickson
Paul Hendrickson

I am not educated on marijuana so I have a question for anyone to answer: is there any way to test if someone is under the influence of it like there is for blood/alcohol for If there was an accident by someone who is thought to be high? Because if so I know it's less damaging than alcohol in like long term health and we should just legalize it so it can at least be managed for quality and taxed.

greenthinks
greenthinks

It require a modicum of intelligence to realize the absurdity of attempting to legislate a plant with an science based evolutionary tie to a species . The attempt to "go to war" against a plant that has apparently 50,000 uses  that includes treating and actually curing mans deadliest diseases besides being a very nutritious "perfect food"  should be considered a sickness or disease laying to bare some of man's  most base and disgusting instincts. To view as an example would be the need to  profit off of others suffering  especially the cruel suffering of children. That makes it such an emotional issue the death and misery of a small child .Along with  the heart wrenching suffering of mothers and fathers praying to God for hope and help and being denied that by people in power with their vested interests. Why must we  be denied that hope an apparent miracle cure  that grows like a weed available to any and all at practically no cost? 


To have the police involved with this process doesnt only not make any sense it lays bare the fascism that has overtaken America in its war on drugs. The very vast amount of people in jail in the U.S  the surveillance state  the militarization of our police the stripping away at our Constitutional rights and guarantees under the constitution and bill of rights along with our near constant warfare  are all  attributed the Nixons  War on drugs and the creation  of the  Nixonian DEA.

Nicole Schumacher
Nicole Schumacher

Um developing opiate's... A lot more work then smoking dried leaves. Plus the addiction rate of pain killers... There are so many things. So many things they are ignorant on.

patrickdentinger
patrickdentinger

A recent article on HuffPost quoted one MN law enforcement officer as saying his main issue is that they'll lose money from federal funding of the so-called 'war on drugs.' There's your answer, in the basest terms possible. Money. Money from the feds and seized property. If 20 other states and DC can legalize medical marijuana, Minnesota CERTAINLY can. The wheel's been invented. USE it.

David Kay
David Kay

Someday, after this tired, old morality fades away, people will grow their own poppy, hemp and tobacco.

Daren L. MN
Daren L. MN

Ah, the classic pot is like opiates argument. #1950s

Nancy Lynn Gosline
Nancy Lynn Gosline

I laugh at the comment that they are afraid that it will hit the black market! It's already there on the black market. Most of us aren't looking for marijuana, we want CBD! Ignorance is bliss as they say!

Geoff
Geoff

@CinBluelandyou must be a special kind of stupid. " It would restrict the use of marijuana to liquids, pills, and vapor -- in other words, no smoking allowed, even though that's how the majority of patients ingest it." If a user is going to smoke it, probably the same place most people smoke it, in their own home.

no.te.deje.agarrar
no.te.deje.agarrar

Yes, you can test for it. I've known people who got busted for being high while biking in Amsterdam. It's like the Dutch equivalent of drinking and driving. :P

CinBlueland
CinBlueland topcommenter

@Geoff @CinBluelandThank you for understanding nuance.. Once we have medical, the next push will be for recreational. 

I personally don't see a reason for it to be illegal, but many of the "health" nuts claiming to support this are death on cigs. And btw some medicinal uses proscribe the use of Charlottes Web which is supposed to be smoked.

Stupid

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