Some questions begging for your comments. Listen to or watch our show and answerthese questions in our survey - or in our comments section or email them toandydriscoll@TruthToTell.org. We'll make sure our guests and their organizations and the policymakers get your answers:
1. Do you support medical marijuana? Why / Why not? Answer HERE.
2. Do you support recreational use of marijuana? Why / Why not? Answer HERE.
3. Have you tried marijuana? If so, what was your experience? Answer HERE.
4. Has the War on Drugs hurt our society or helped our society? Yes / No Why? Answer HERE.
5. What do you think of private prisons lobbying against the legalization of marijuana? Answer HERE.
6. Henry Ford made a car from hemp fibers. He said, "Why use up the forests which were centuries in the making and the mines which required ages to lay down, if we can get the equivalent of forest and mineral products in the annual growth of the hemp fields?" Should this be considered for future policies on marijuana? Answer HERE.
7. Is there an aspect to the legalization of marijuana discussion that is missing? If so, what is it? Answer HERE.
What a difference a year can make.
When last we visited this issue of marijuana legalization, we tapped theMinnesota Chapter of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) to explain just why this controversial weed, as many call it, should be legalized or decriminalized in this state. We come back to this not because of any major shift in state policy –yet – but because the subject has again gained currency with both the introduction of medial marijuana bills here and the passage of significant changes in four other states last Fall.
Although some state legislatures– twelve this year to be exact – have either affirmatively rejected or allowed to die bills to legalize even the medical use of cannabis, last fall three states’ electorates voted not only to decriminalize marijuana, they passed initiatives or referenda legalizing its regulated recreational use. Montana and Massachusetts passed medical marijuana reform initiatives. AndColorado and Washington legalized personal use of marijuana outright for those 21 and over.
Bills to authorize medical marijuana in Minnesota, introduced in both houses last Session (SF 1641/HF 1818), remain in their respective Health and Human Services committees, because they were introduced too late in the session, but because Minnesota works on a biennial legislative calendar, the bills stay alive through next year's session.
At the moment, Minnesota ranks the personal possession or sale of less than 1.5 ounces or 42.5 grams of marijuana a misdemeanor calling for a maximum $200 penalty, dischargeable for first “offenders.” Anything more than that amount and possession and sales become felonies and the penalties, depending on the quantity and where you’ve bought and/or sold it can go through the roof – anywhere from 5 years and $5,000 to 30 years and $1 million.
Tough stuff for a drug that’s been described as tame compared with the ramifications of alcohol use and abuse. Yes, alcohol. According to NORML, which some will dispute, such agencies as the National Academy of Sciences, the Connecticut Law Review Commission and the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan all found that decriminalization causes no substantial increase either in marijuana use or the use of other substances, including alcohol. The British, Dutch and Australians concluded much the same.
This begs the question of what effect the entire so-called Drug War industry is having on public policy and therefore public opinion.
It should be noted that five Mayo physicians issued one warning just a couple of weeks ago that “An increasingly available option for medical patients suffering chronic pain -- medical marijuana -- should be avoided by teens.” However, it also states that their commentary – “…to be published in the July issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings – relies on findings from cases involving three high school-age patients at Mayo's pediatric chronic pain clinic, who said they used marijuana regularly.” Note that this data comes from the experience of three teen patients.
It would take several pages (hours) to quote studies done in the US and Europe that refute the claims of those who denounce even the use of small amounts as “reefer madness” setting in, corrupting our children and inviting rapid addiction to the worst of the controlled substances, such as heroin and cocaine.
We thought it worthwhile to come back to this subject after last Fall’s election and this last Minnesota Legislative session’s introduction of measures to legalize medical marijuana, and this time to bring one of the suffering witnesses from that session’s testimony to talk to us about his experience as well.
TTT’S ANDY DRISCOLL and MICHELLE ALIMORADI quiz the patient, the state senator and some other advocates and observers over the momentum behind medical marijuana as well as the hopes for complete decriminalization in Minnesota.
STATE SENATOR SCOTT DIBBLE (DFL-Mpls 61) – Author, Medical Marijuana Senate File 1641; Chair, Transportation and Public Safety Committee and Chair of Transportation and Public Safety Division of Finance. (Sen. Dibble also authored the Marriage for All bill.)
KURTIS HANNA – Executive Director, MN NORML
KATIE RUCKE – Editorial Assistant and Staff Writer, Mint Press News – specializing in health, criminal justice, education, whistleblowers and watchdog investigations.
PATRICK McCLELLAN, Burnsville – Sufferer from mitochondrial myopathy, a rare, genetic muscular disorder that causes severe, painful spasms.