Imagine a man so obsessed with eliminating useless, harmless clutter from his attic that he fails to hear the cry of a suffering relative just a few feet away from him.
Recent news coverage conjures that image for me.
In one part of the news, we have ever-earnest Gov. Mark Dayton sorting through the cluttered statutory attic to find useless laws. Downsizin’ Dayton is finding lots of regulatory rubbish, such as a law requiring the capture of wild boars in the Twin Cities. (Don’t worry, legislators, that’s “boars” with an “a.”)
Elsewhere in the news, we have Minnesotans in severe pain pleadingGovernor Dayton and legislators for a law to allow them to use medicinal marijuana to relieve severe pain and nausea, as 20 other states already do. To be clear, we’re not talking Cheech or Spicoli here. We’re talking about people suffering and dying.
The Governor is no stranger to pain, and has proven throughout his career to be a very compassionate guy. But for whatever reason, he doesn’t seem to be hearing the cries of these victims. Instead, he’s fixated on getting Boar Laws to the dumpster, and blindly following law enforcement officials who are so obsessed with chasing potheads that they can’t think straight about this very different issue.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not now, nor have I ever been, a Boar Law sympathizer. Like the Governor, I stand steadfastly against the Boar Law, and other forms of legislative hoarding. Moreover, I recognize that some of Dayton’s “Unsession” proposals are very meaty, such as speeding up the environmental permitting process. That’s extremely worthwhile reform work, and I hope the Legislature follows the lead of Governor Dayton and his Un-Lieutenant Tony Sertich.
But let’s face it, much of Dayton’s initiative to eliminate 1,000 laws falls firmly into the category of “nice to have,” rather than “must have.” He is cleaning harmless clutter, and most of us function just fine with harmless clutter in our midst.
Practically speaking, no Minnesotan violating the Boar Law, or similar antiquated laws, is in danger of being busted and imprisoned. But a Minnesotan trying to buy marijuana to ease the pain of a loved one is in very real danger of being busted and imprisoned. That’s bananas.
To the Minnesotans suffering from deadly illnesses, and their loved ones frantic to help them, medical marijuana is much more than a “nice to have.” Former U.S. Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders explains the type of relief that Minnesota lawmakers are denying suffering citizens:
The evidence is overwhelming that marijuana can relieve certain types of pain, nausea, vomiting and other symptoms caused by such illnesses as multiple sclerosis, cancer and AIDS — or by the harsh drugs sometimes used to treat them. And it can do so with remarkable safety. Indeed, marijuana is less toxic than many of the drugs that physicians prescribe every day.
“Huh, Surgeon General Elders, did you say something? I can’t hear so well up here in the statutory attic.”
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