Should marijuana be legalized in Minnesota?

Should Minnesota legalize marijuana for medicinal uses? The issue is steaming along at the Capitol. On Tuesday, it passed through a Senate committee. Today, the bill got an OK from a House committee.

“I spent the last eight years in the nursing home with my aunt and my mother, also at the end of my fathers life, I watched them in a lot of pain and taking a lot of pills,” Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, said. He’s sponsoring the proposed legislation. “I just think there’s a better way for some folks to address their pain and medical marijuana is legal in 13 other states and there’s overwhelming public support.”

Like many bills that make annual appearances at the Capitol, the arguments on both sides were predictable, but no less emotional with every story.

Kathy Rippentrop, whose mother was diagnosed with colon cancer, described her mother’s slow death. “Mom tolerated the first round of chemo, but the pills to control vomiting cost $100 each. Mom was withering away to nothing with no appetite.”

Her father, a recovering alcoholic and drug user, got some marijuana from a friend. “The only miracle drug for cancer is marijuana,” she said. “My father will tell you how ironic it is that the government is concerned about the pain of a murderer, but makes the only cancer drug that reduces pain against the law.”

Joni Whiting told the story of her 26-year-old-daughter, Stephanie, who was diagnosed with skin cancer and died six years ago. “They cut her face off one inch at a time until there was nothing left,” she said. Despite being told by a doctor that smoking marijuana would ease her pain, neither Whiting or her daughter could break the law. By the time she died, Whiting said, her daughter was taking 50-60 Oxycontin pills a day.

“The fear of being caught was significant,” she said of her and her daughter’s initial decision. That changed when someone left a bag of marijuana on the front step. By the end, Whiting said through tears, her daughter couldn’t “stand the pain of us touching her.”

“To threaten the sick and dying with jail is unconscionable,” she told the House Civil Justice Committee. “What would you have done if you were in my shoes. What price would you be willing to pay to relieve the pain of a loved one. I was the one who listened to her scream in pain.”

But Michael Campion, the state’s commissioner of public safety defended the state’s position on legalization of marijuana. “There is an absence of any empirical data that this legislation is going to do what it intends to do; there’s a lot of anecdotal stories but the AMA and the FDA have not endorsed the smoking of marijuana,” he said. “It’s against federal law and it puts the federal justice system in conflict with our state partners.”

An ex-drug dealer testified briefly that if the law is enacted, “people will kick the door in to get those plants in.” Under the bill, people would be allowed to grow 12 plants of marijuana.

Another man, Jim Fahiz, testified he blew a hockey scholarship at the University of Minnesota because he smoked marijuana. “I’ve known thousands of drug addicts,” he said, “and every one of them started with marijuana.”

The bill passed the committee on a voice vote without opposition.

A similar bill passed through committees in the House last year but never came up for a vote on the House floor.

  • Jane Kinnunen

    I can not believe that the people of Minnesota would deny a person in pain a “medication” that would help relieve that pain. I believe it would be a travesty not to allow medical marijuana.

  • My husband has degenerative disk disease. Without marijuana, he would weight next to nothing, because the pain is so much that he cannot eat.

    Marijuana is the only thing that has been able to make his life relatively normal and legal or not, I would NEVER take that away from him.

  • John

    The only reason marijuana has any connection with other illegal drugs is because it is illegal. So in order for people to get marijuana they need to communicate with drug dealers that will want to influence them into buying other drugs like meth.

    If marjuana is legalized then the “gateway” connection would be eliminated because people wouldn’t need to associate with these criminals to obtain marijuana.

  • Bob

    So what if someone who has a painful disease and is able to get some relief through the use of marijuana becomes dependent on it?

    The testimony of the healthy kid who blew a hockey scholarship by cuddling up to the chronic is irrelevant to the question of whether to make marijuana legal for medical use.

    Also, the idea suggested by the ex-drug dealer’s testimony — that seriously ill people will rush to become dealers vying for business from the general pot-smoking public (kids on hockey scholarships?) — is just fatuous.

    If Obama is looking for something to do, making medical marijuana legal at the federal level would be a very humanitarian move.

  • Chad

    Not to detract from the point of this thread or to make an obvious point but…

    Its a curious observation– that we spend so much time debating whether pot should be legal or not. And tabacco kills millions. Tobacco should be illegal and THC should be studied in FDA-approved clinical trials.

    I think marijuana should only be used in controlled doses with a prescription, though. How it works on the body physiologically poses some serious risks when used too much or without a physician’s monitoring.

  • David

    “If Obama is looking for something to do, making medical marijuana legal at the federal level would be a very humanitarian move”

    I heard about a bill in commitee that would federally legalize up to 4 oz, and that’s true legalization not medicinal. The feds don’t prosecute anything that small anyway. I’ve heard this would be a move to take the pressure off of states with or looking at medicinal marijuana policies as well as set a federal guidline for permissible quantities.

    “Should marijuana be legalized in Minnesota?”

    Yes, totally legalized and regulated. It only takes asking a teen “What’s harder to get, Pot or Booze?” to hear about the effectiveness of regulation.

  • Tyler Suter

    taking a lot of pills

    The effects of marijuana certaintly can be no worse than said pills.

    So what if someone who has a painful disease and is able to get some relief through the use of marijuana becomes dependent on it?

    They will have a perpetual case of the munchies… I think it is much more relavent to ask about what happens to those that become dependent on lab designed perscription drugs.

    The only reason marijuana has any connection with other illegal drugs is because it is illegal.

    I think this is a good (at the very least, interesting) point, but I would not go so far as to say that legalizing marijuana would clear it from the daily lives of drug addicts; I would compare it to alchohol, yet less damaging.

  • Matt

    Most important point:

    Marijuana is the best (= quickest acting/least addictive) of any cancer pain reliever available. On top of that studies over the past 30 years show that canniboids have the ability to not only treat the pain caused by cancers but actually trigger the body to destroy some cancer cells. However, that research doesn’t get much play in this country.

    Next Most:

    Just look at how much money California should/could be making off the legalization of marijuana.

    And Finally:

    — I’ve known thousands of drug addicts, and every one of them started with marijuana.

    This statement by the unfortunate non-hockey player is a tired argument. Marijuana does not make you want to try other drugs, simple truth, it “MAKES” you want to try a variety of snack foods and discussion topics. The thing that makes a person want to try other drugs after trying pot is the over-hyped lies to school age children telling them that pot will destroy their lives. After having the War on Drugs’ talking points crammed into a young person’s head for 5+ years (I’m looking at you DARE) the first time they try marijuana is an eyeopener. And the conclusion draw is something like: “If they lied so much about the dangers of pot use how much did they lie about everything else? I think I’ll find out for myself.”

    As far as I’m concerned this is the only way to connect marijuana, as a gateway drug, to other actually harmful drugs. Our nation’s drug policy is the real perpetrator of this “gateway” sham. It’s time to grow up and let adults decide. Unfortunately there is no “Big Marijuana” lobby, unless you count public opinion, to compete with Big Tobacco and Alcohol who actually do cause serious health and social risks.

  • Mr. Natural

    I have personally provided home-grown Minnesota marijuana to a half dozen cancer patients over the past 30 years, from my grandmother to my wife to friends to a friend’s mother. In all but one, it helped ease their pain and suffering. The one–my grandmother–died before she could try the brownies.

    I don’t need any scientific studies to know it works. Neither do my cancer-surviving friends. I don’t need any studies to know that you can function perfectly well as a daily recreational marijuana smoker for 40 years either. You’d be surprised at how many of us there are out here. We’re everywhere. We’re all criminals, too, and we’ll probably go to our graves as criminals because of this backward, dishonest Reefer Madness prohibition.

    The only thing marijuana prohibition has done for me is breed a healthy disrespect for law enforcement and their advocates in the legislature.

    So don’t EVER try to tell me or cancer survivors who have benefitted from marijuana either medically or recreationally that you know what you’re talking about. You speak from ignorance, or in the case of Tim Pawlenty, political expediency.

  • Conservative Christian

    Minnesota has the choice between either spending $20,000 a year to lock up a medical marijuana user or collecting sales tax on the individual’s purchase of this widely used product.

    If it’s grow-your-own, consider a $100 per year permit for a dozen plants.

    It’s time to put the criminal drug dealers out of business and let ordinary Americans grow a little marijuana in their own back yards.

  • Joanna

    Morphine is a controlled substance, not legal for recreational use, and is used medically for pain relief in a variety of safe and legal ways, everywhere. I had an injection of intrathecal morphine when I was in labor as an anesthetic because it would not pass into my baby’s bloodstream, and it made my delivery easier. I’m not a junkie! Should morphine be unavailable for medical use because it is abused by some addicts when refined into heroin?

    Similarly, there is in fact a lot of scientific evidence as well as anecdotal evidence about the efficacy of TCH (which does not have to be ingested by smoking only) in the treatment of nausea and pain for patients for whom other remedies are useless. To refuse to make marijuana available for legitimate medical use, in a legal and controlled way similar to that of other controlled substances such as Oxycontin or morphine, makes no medical or legal sense, and promotes cynicism in the public.

    If you want to talk about “gateway drugs” what about tobacco and alcohor? We know that these two legal and highly addictive substances cause enormous individual and social harm, and cost our society a lot of money, yet they remain legal and so easily available that young children get hooked on them every year. Our public health policies are supremely incoherent.

  • Joel

    I have never smoked or used marijuana, but I am of the opinion that it should be legalized and regulated in the same way as cigarettes and alcohol.

  • Al

    Chad beat me to it. Why hasn’t THC, the active ingredient, not been put forth by a pharma company in an FDA approved dosage form (patch, pill, IV solution, etc.) and made available via presciption?

  • Ron

    Well Al, They have and it is called MARINOL. It is Synthetic THC. But that is it. It is overlooked, but there are also chemicals that are helpful in the treatment of pain and other issues, CBD and CBN. Neither of these are included in their so called “Synthetic form of marijuana”, just THC. These pills too powerful for some. The problem is with the regulation of doseage. We are much better at determining when we have had enough, a pill keeps on and stops when it is designed to.

  • Al

    I don’t have time to research this now, but these sounds like dosing issues which should be very possible to overcome. If the prescription versions of the drug work effectively, marketing doesn’t seem like much of a challenge considering all of the coverage it should get from the media.

  • When in pain, or worse, dying..does it really matter what an individual does as long as they are not hurting themselves or others?

    THC is a cancer preventative according to (gov scientific research). It is after all a ‘God’ made herb that should be blessed as a powerful healing tool and not be looked at as a ‘negative, harmful drug’. Humans are looking at this plant as it is our ‘right’ to decide what ‘man’ does with the natures natural resource..when it is fundamentally not ‘ours’ to own.

    Peace, good health, and love.

    Cara Mastrey

    Founder/Executive Director TMF

  • Curt

    I agree with Davids earlier post. Seems like most people are in favor of legalization. Booze and pot will always be available. Both will always be used responsibly and irresponsibly. Much research has been done in the Netherlands and is available on line.We must try to be intelligent and do the right thing. I don’t claim to be intelligent but it seems to be a no brainer that to make pot legal would be the best thing to do. Legalize and tax.Keep in mind that alot of kids who smoke are ending up with adulterated pot that has been soaked and sprayed with all kinds of harmful crap to add weight, mask smells and add fx. The pusher man don’t give a damn. Some greedy pushers introduce the bad stuff like heroin and cocaine to our kids .Lets take them out of the picture and make them get a job.

  • Betty Boop

    I am an epileptic who lives in Minnesota and from first hand info I can tell you that it helps in many ways. It brings down stress which brings on seizures and when I went to the psych he didnt want to give me an antianxiety pill becuz the majority of them cause seizures. I had a brain surgery and the dr told me that i would have these little things called zingers which is the nerves in my brain reconnecting and when I smoke marijuana the zingers are tripled!!!! It also gives me an appetite which I lose when I have a seizure. It also helps the headache pain so I dont have to take so many pills. It is an amazing drug especially for epileptics but yet we got to walk around scared that someone will take our kids or something similar. I hope someone comes to thier senses!

  • Elizabeth

    Legalizing marijuana for “medicinal” use is a red herring. I’m sorry these people are suffering, but they are also being used. It will start with that and then end up with total legalization. EVERY person I have met and known (some quite well) who was a regular pot user was NOT a fully-functioning member of society. Marijuana (or the major chemical in it) affects the frontal lobe. This is the part of the brain that aids us in things like critical thinking and decision making. People who use pot regularly destroy their brain (don’t tell me they don’t – I’ve SEEN it in action). It also has same to worse effects as cigarettes if smoked. ALSO, my brother (who is a police officer) explained (when I asked once, “Is it really that bad?” that in his experience it is most definitely a “gateway” drug, particularly for young people. They have parties or friends over, smoke pot, and then, while under the influence (and not thinking clearly) will try anything else that people will offer them. I know all the advocates will disagree with these points and say that it’ll stop at medicinal use, but any bit of common sense will tell you that that is not how American society works. We should be making cigarettes illegal too (but we’d lose too many tax dollars). Oh, yet another reason some want to legalize it – we can get more tax revenue. Making money off of people’s addictions is immoral.

  • Amanda

    I couldn’t have said it better Natilie!!

    Elizabeth said “ALSO, my brother (who is a police officer) explained”…

    Was your brother taught by someone holding a Ph.D ? By someone that has a doctorate in medicne or preferably a Pharm. D degree? Probally not! I am so sick of “government officals” thinking they know how “drugs” work on the body. They are not formally trained to know this. They are taught by another government offical (probally holding an assosiates degree) that tells them what they want them to know, not the real medical facts.

    I am a graduate student in neuroscience taught by people who accurally hold Ph.D’s. I am very educated and smoke pot regularly. Maybe the government should stop teaching lies to there students.

    Drugs will never go away! Regulate it to make people safer! GET OVER IT!

  • Amanda

    Oh yeah…

    Elizabeth I would love to hear about your educational background. You seem to think you know about the human brain…

  • Mr Green

    well as for medical use i really do not care but as a form of creating jobs and makeing our justice system less a joke and creating taxes for our state i am all for it as of regulation good luck thats like trying to regulate government!

    Legalize it pretty sure over 30% of the people in mn smoke it any ways hell we could do with less laws any how and it makes me sick to see violent crimes get treated lesser then drug crimes

    Here is a story a buddy of mine got attacked he almost died and suffers brain damage the guy who almost killed him was given 1 year in jail whats wrong with this picture.

  • Travis

    I smoke pot daily. I have a 4 year degree, been employed for the past 6 years since graduating from college, own a home, own a car, and have money left over to save and spend! I’m a responsible citizen, pay my taxes, and wake up at 5:45 am each morning. I feel like I’m a good person and if I choose to use marijuana instead of alcohol I should be allowed to use it without having to break the law. Legalizing pot would also be great for our economy!

  • David Alexander

    I posted a couple of answers in the affirmative with supporting links, you won’t post them or you haven’t had the time?

    It was a crime to make marijuana (hemp, cannabis)

    illegal in the first place.

    Please tell me you are on the side on the people and the planet and not the angry, fearful, greedy, ignorant and foolish side.

    The Emperor Wears No Clothes

  • David Alexander

    * Make the most of the Indian hemp seed, and sow it everywhere!

    o George Washington in a note to his gardener at Mount Vernon (1794), The Writings of George Washington, Volume 33, page 270 (Library of Congress)

    o Washington also recorded his concern that the male and female plants be separated:

    May 12-13 1765: Sowed Hemp at Muddy hole by Swamp.

    August 7, 1765: —began to seperate (sic) the Male from the Female Hemp at Do —rather too late.

    Some assert his interest in separating the male and female plants is an indication that he may have used Indian hemp medicinally to treat his chronic tooth aches. Others note that fiber of the male and female hemp plants have a different optimum harvest times.

  • Ms Greenhead

    I’m a regular user of weed and so is everyone I know. Weed is a big thing in mn, we’re all hippies. Legalizing would be a brilliant move.

  • mary420

    george washington grew hemp why cant we?

    i think eveyone would just get along if we just sat down and smoked a blunt. so what if marijuana makes you hungry and happy there isn’t anything wrong with that. everyone i know smokes weed. marijuana is a natural thing on earth so why is it illegal. you can also make alot of friends through marijuana too.=]

  • joshua

    I think its rediculous how government officials will still not legalize marijuana. After so many years of giving citations and tickets and wasting money trying to stop marijuana use, you think they would come to there senses and legalize it. Im 17 years old, smoke herb every day of my life and pretty much everybody i know smokes regularly. Minnesotans will always love marijuana and will smoke it regardless of it being illigal or not.

  • kenan

    i am 25 years old and i enjoy the sweet leaf. as a responsible stoner i can say that marijuana is definitly safer than most drugs, how ever there are people that abuse it but there are people that booze.

    i really dont understand hiw a drunk driver can get off with a min. sentance even though they killed someone, but a stoner minding his own business smoking in his backyard gets a $25,000 fine and 10 years in prision.

  • Mason

    I’m currently 18 years old and have been smoking pot for about 5 years. Not untill recently with me becoming an “adult” have i been extremly open with it. I’m also an epilectic and have had major deppression and anxiety probloms annnddd ADHD in the past. I incounter doctors on a regular basis, so many different doctors check my vidals, lungs, ect. quite a lot. now that i’m a little older i finaly desided to tell me doctors about my Personal medication ( Marijuana ) Its kinda funny how they react sometimes. My theropist that i still see once a month even though i’m not deppressed knows i smoke weed and dosint think to badly about but all my other doctors that i resently desided to tell right after they are done with the checkup have no idea that i have been smoking for that long ( and i asked them right after they checked if everything was normal )i tell them about how long ive been smokiing for. they say i have perfect lungs and everything. but then always bring up how it leads to other drugs blah blah blah. i always argue that me smoking cannibis is no different from them watching the vicking game and having a few beers if anything its safer and people who do start other drugs have the personality to do them anyway even if they have never smoked cannibis. Its almost like they get offended bc a 17 year old told them up. One doctor gave me a packet about marijuana and how bad it is for you. i didint exept the packet and left. I have been struggling my whole life with deppression, anxiety. my epilepsy and adhd and school. smoking cannibis everyday has helped all of those and has even taken care of my deppression and all my anxitey and most of my adhd. this is not my “trend” this is not my “fix” this is my medicine.

    I may be young but i’m not stupid.