Dayton’s medical-marijuana blindspot

MinnPost file photo by James Nord
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.”

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.”

This post was written by Joe Loveland and originally published on Wry Wing Politics.

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Comments (11)

  1. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 03/06/2014 - 10:32 am.

    It’s interesting

    The Minnesota Medical Association said today that two-thirds of the 35 physicians attending a medical marijuana forum this week oppose the bill. The forum’s moderator and MMA board chairman, Dr. Dave Thorson, says many physicians felt more research is needed on the topic.

    Polls show that like abortion, the demographic most in favor of making this legal are post-adolescent males.

  2. Submitted by Cameron Parkhurst on 03/06/2014 - 03:07 pm.

    Stop calling it medical marijuana

    Is there a difference between medical marijuana and regular marijuana? My understanding is there is no such thing as medical marijuana, that is just the label used to make legalization palatable. What the discussion should be about is permitting the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. The debate seems caught between full legalization of marijuana and legalization for specific medicinal purposes. Full legalization is crap and legalization for specific medicinal purposes is worth discussing. Although trusting our legislators to determine what specific medicinal purposes are allowed is not such a great idea.

    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 03/06/2014 - 04:14 pm.


      Yes, there is a difference between medical marijuana and regular marijuana. Namely the source of the plant, the permitting system, and the distribution system. In fact you answered the question in the same paragraph.

    • Submitted by Kurt Nelson on 03/07/2014 - 08:31 am.

      But there is medical marijuana

      There is a difference between medical and recreational, but this gets lost in the arms race to produce plants with the highest THC levels. Growers are offering low THC strains (No high with this weed, just relief from a variety of causes). The problem comes from the lack of incentive for growers to plant and grow this variety, when the market place seems to favor higher and higher levels of THC.

      As a grower, what would you do; grow what the market is asking for, or take a loss and grow something that helps, but has little market value.

      Many patients are not looking to get high, they are however, looking for an appetite enhancer after chemo, or to reduce the pain with MS, then these low THC strains are in fact medicinal in nature.

  3. Submitted by jason myron on 03/06/2014 - 05:07 pm.


    I’m curious as to why you feel full legalization is “crap?”

    • Submitted by Cameron Parkhurst on 03/06/2014 - 08:29 pm.

      I don’t believe we are ready to deal with full legalization

      and the impact on driving while impaired, working while impaired and upon those individuals for whom marijuana will be an addiction. From what I read and hear the push to legalization only talks about how relatively harmless the drug is, but does not discuss the problems. Overall, I am not against legalization, but need to be convinced about some of the implementation and regulation.

      • Submitted by jason myron on 03/07/2014 - 12:18 am.

        Fair enough…

        thank you.

      • Submitted by Pat Berg on 03/07/2014 - 07:38 am.

        How is that different from alcohol?

        Alcohol causes impairment while driving or working and also carries problems with addiction. But alcohol is legal. What’s illegal with alcohol is carrying on certain activities while under its influence. Why should that be any different for marijuana?

        As long as any proposed legislation includes repercussions for illegally engaging in prohibited activities while impaired, why is marijuana any different from alcohol in this context?

        • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 03/07/2014 - 08:53 am.

          Gateway drug

          While alcohol and marijuana are both intoxicants, alcohol has never been identified as a gateway drug to more addictive and harmful substances like heroin, as marijuana has. Most heroin addicts will tell you that they started out smoking pot.

          As a society, we have an obligation to protect the children from harmful intoxicants if it’s within our power to do so. Refusing to make another intoxicant legal would be doing that.

          • Submitted by Kurt Nelson on 03/07/2014 - 09:50 am.

            Tired argument -think of the children

            Most alcoholics started drinking milk before they ever touched alcohol – does that make milk a gateway drug. This, of all the tired and useless arguments against legalizing marijuana is the most inane.

            As children we used to spin on playground equipment, you know, pushing the apparatus around and around until you fell off dizzy and laughing, only to get on and do it again. Why, because we liked the feeling. Our consciousnesses was altered (albeit very briefly). Spinning then, is a gateway and ought to be criminalized, because we must think of the children.

            Since the laws around medical marijuana are not focused on children, why is it so important to always bring them into the discussion. Nobody is advocating we start allowing children to use weed, but many are advocating for the use of marijuana as palliative care for adults. As mentioned above, removing or reducing the THC in a strain removes the chemical responsible for the high, and yet still provides relief for many conditions – so much for that argument, but really we must think of the children, nobody else should have a say.

          • Submitted by jason myron on 03/07/2014 - 04:17 pm.


            no other drug in this country has caused more destruction, illness and death than alcohol. According to the 2006 survey on drug use and health, 15.6 million people needed treatment for alcohol disorders only, 3.8 for drug abuse and 3.2 for both. This “gateway” drivel is absurd….and just how many heroin addicts do you know personally, Dennis?

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