As others see it: Pursue compromise on medical marijuana
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton long has been opposed to legalizing marijuana, siding with law-enforcement concerns that legalization, even for medical reasons, opens the door to a rise in drug use and drug-related criminal activity.
But the governor last week showed he can be open-minded on the issue, too, and that he’s sympathetic to people who truly are suffering and who truly could be helped, especially children. The governor proposed spending $2.6 million or more to research whether the healing, nonnarcotic chemicals in marijuana can be extracted, whether they can be safely ingested and whether they can be administered to patients not by smoking leaves but in pill or liquid form.
In other words, all the benefits that medical-marijuana proponents preach without the high and without the drug problems law enforcement and communities would be left to clean up.
While the governor’s proposed price tag for a study seems questionably pricey and in need of justification, his compromise is worth pursuing.
“Before it wasn’t even possible; now it looks like it’s in the realm of possibility,” Gov. Dayton said of some level of marijuana legalization in Minnesota.
However, “There are people who just want to be able to smoke marijuana,” the governor continued in an interview with the News Tribune Opinion page. “My perception is quite a number of people in that situation are using (the push for) medical marijuana as sort of a front to make marijuana more accessible.” If legalized, marijuana could be prescribed for “chronic pain and now they’ve added post-traumatic stress syndrome. Those are real afflictions, but they’re real easy to fake. You walk into the doctor’s office and say, ‘I’m in chronic pain,’ can the doctor say no?
“But I am sympathetic to those who are suffering,” Dayton said.
With legislative approval, a study would be done by the Mayo Clinic. The study would focus on cannabidiol, the Associated Press reported. Commonly known as CBD, cannabidiol is a compound in marijuana that does not produce a high.
Dayton proposes using $2.2 million from the state general fund for the study plus another $400,000 for a report examining “the likely health impacts of expanded use of cannabis for medical purposes in Minnesota,” according to the draft bill. Mayo researchers could seek grants for even more money.
“We wanted to be as helpful as we can be in the bounds of medical prudence, especially children who are suffering,” Dayton said in a statement. “If we can help a couple hundred or more young children with epilepsy, that’s important to do.”
Indeed. Minnesotans are suffering and can be helped. If the price is proven right, the compromise on the table — for all the benefits of medical marijuana without the growing, smoking, crime problems and step toward full legalization — is ripe for support.