The details behind law enforcement's flip-flop on medical marijuana
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.
|Pipestone Co Sheriff Dan Delaney|
"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."
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