MN NORML rallies at the capitol for pot reform

Rallying at the capitol
Demonstrators descended on the state capitol rotunda Wednesday thrusting fists and signs into the air with chants of "yes, we cannabis!"

For two hours, the hallways echoed with the voices of cops, writers, pols, and lawyers invited by Minnesota NORML, which lobbies for marijuana reform. They rubbed elbows with both jean jackets and blazers, showing the disparate makeup of a group that is often typecast and dismissed as burnouts.

See also:
When will medical marijuana be legal in Minnesota?

"This movement is about people who like drugs, people who hate drugs, and people who just don't give a damn about drugs," says Neill Franklin, a former narcotics officer, from the podium. "It's about everyone who is concerned about cannabis prohibition in the United States today."

In the crowd, Grassroots Party founder Oliver Steinberg smiles when asked about how pot reform has gone mainstream. He attended his first demonstration back in the early 90s with some of the same people who showed up here.

"The only difference now are those cameras," he says, pointing to the TV crews.

Yes, there's more exposure, but rallies like this one run the risk of further conflating the issues of medical and recreational marijuana, thereby playing into the hands of opponents. Just the other day, when he testified against the medical bill, Minnesota public health commissioner Ed Ehlinger quoted Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper as saying,
I don't tell other governors what to do, but when they asked me, I said, 'If I was in your shoes, I would wait a couple of years and see whether there are unintended consequences, from what is admittedly a well-intentioned law.
The problem: Hickenlooper went on record years ago supporting medical marijuana. His words of caution came from a New York Times article about how Democratic governors were hesitant to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Ehlinger failed to mention both of these points.

We asked his office about it and got a reply via email: "The Governor's [Hickenlooper's] observation about the merits of learning lessons good and bad from other states can easily apply to policies that address medical marijuana just as much as policies addressing recreational marijuana."

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