Medical marijuana is legislative — not law enforcement — decision

REUTERS/Anthony Bolante
Law enforcement can't separate marijuana the commodity from marijuana trafficking.

Law enforcement has a long history with marijuana. But they can’t separate marijuana the commodity from marijuana trafficking. They can only see the portion of this story that has been assigned to them.

Law enforcement cares little about what marijuana can be used for. What it can do to help people. Or what its potential economic benefits can be.

All they see is the illegal traffic. The drug dealers on the street. The money laundering. The people who abuse it.

That is why we cannot just let the law enforcement community hold a veto power over the use of marijuana. They have their view and we should certainly take that into account. But it is only one view. There are many more sides to this issue and those other sides probably have more relevance because they see beyond the legal road blocks and see where the potential benefits are.

This is one policy issue where Governor Dayton is wrong. He has abdicated his legislative responsibility and given it to the myopic view of law enforcement. 

The medical aspects of this are more than compelling. They are heart breaking. And to lump this into a side note on a failed drug war mentality is just foolish. 

Law enforcement deals with enforcement of current laws. Laws which are outdated and outmoded. We should be focusing on changing those laws with the updated information that we have now. 

Personally, I think it would be simpler to just go the Colorado route and make marijuana legal — tax the heck out of it — and give a portion of the tax money to the underfunded budgets that law enforcement deals with.

Minnesota isn’t there yet. But we can work towards giving parents and chronic pain patients a means of help now.

We can make restrictive laws that can make marijuana accessible to the people who need it. It will be more complicated than removing marijuana from its illegal status, but it can be done.

We can treat it like we do orphan drugs. Orphan drugs are medications that are used for rare diseases that do not have a big enough market for full manufacturing status. But by screening people that need it, the drugs can be made directly available to them….shipped directly to them or a selected pharmacy outlet that meets detailed criteria.

Marijuana for medical use could be done that way, and law enforcement wouldn’t have to deal with the headaches of a potential mass market.

C’mon. We are better than this. We have a drug with a limited purpose that can do so much good and with so few long term side effects. 

We can resolve this problem. This is not a law enforcement decision. This is a legislative one and leadership needs to act.

This post was written David Mindeman and originally published on mnpACT! Progressive Political Blog. Follow Dave on Twitter: @newtbuster.

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Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by Jesse Langanki on 03/13/2014 - 08:09 am.

    law enforcement opposition

    If law enforcement is concerned with the limited medical marijuana legalization then they should be more happy with full legalization which would eliminate the crime aspect altogether and maybe that would be a good compromise to make Dayton and police agree.

    • Submitted by Dan Hintz on 03/13/2014 - 09:51 am.

      Its about money

      Civil forfeiture laws allow law enforcement to keep money and goods confiscated in drug arrests (even if people are found not guilty!) Marijuana legalization would result in the loss of millions of dollars in revenue. While there would be increased tax revenue with legalization, not all of that money would go to law enforcement and would be specifically bugeted. Forfeiture money gives law enforcement a huge slush fund to spend as they please.

      Law enforcement offers up a host of other reasons to oppose legalization, many of which are completely bogus, but after watching them reject all of the proposed compromise, its pretty clear what’s really going on.

      Its a huge conflict of interest to have law enforcement control this issue, and a huge ethical failure on the part of Governor Dayton to allow that to happen.

  2. Submitted by Greg Price on 03/13/2014 - 09:07 am.

    this is pretty hypocritical…

    You are a near criminal if you smoke a cigarette anywhere but in the privacy of your own home…however it is ok to get stoned…medical marijuana notwithstanding…how many wanna-be cases of potential glaucoma, Post traumatic stress, and ADHD will need to get Marijuana clearance…I think you will have people knocking the doors down which really is a sad comment on the state of our society…

    Lets just introduce another gateway drug. Instead of MADD…you can start another similar Chapter…Mothers Against Stoned Drivers…they are having this problem in CO & WA now…giving their law enforcement additional training and additional problems…

    Sounds good…just what MN needs…Land of 10,000 stoners…but we are getting tax revenues…at what cost…

  3. Submitted by Robert Owen on 03/13/2014 - 09:18 am.

    Why tax the heck out if it?

    If you tax the heck out of it the demand for a black market won’t go away. States with very high cigarette taxes have seen a black market for tobacco. Those states don’t get any tax revenue from the black market.

    Law enforcement has a vested interest in keeping marijuana illegal in the form of cash and property forfeitures from those accused (but not always convicted) of possessing marijuana.

  4. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 03/13/2014 - 09:46 am.

    Abuse is better than War

    I don’t think there’s any question that legalization (I think we should have full legalization, not merely for medical use) would lead to an increase in marijuana abuse, but I think its a reasonable trade-off. The drug war is killing more people, and more innocent people, than marijuana would, and treatment is less expensive and destructive to society and personal lives than shoot-outs of territory or imprisonment.

    As far as law enforcement is concerned, let’s never forget that their role is to enforce laws, not make them. I know the bill of rights complicates law enforcement for instance… so be it, that’s what we sign on for in a democracy.

  5. Submitted by Stephen Conlin on 03/29/2014 - 02:11 pm.

    The laws already exist.

    Hello, MN Statute 297D, MN Statute 609.01, &609.902, subd. 4. Then there is Sisson v. Triplett, 248 N.W. 2d 565 (1988). I am the first and so far the only representative of the legal marijuana industry in Minnesota. Stephen Conlin’s the BUZZ, in St. Charles, MN 55972 507-932-8710. $3.50 per gram tax is a fare price to pay. I include that tax in the price, I don’t add it on top. The Governor should be ashamed to suggest that we should listen to the people who have failed so badly in stopping a problem.

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