By Richard Farrell
Investors are eyeing the Minnesota market carefully following a Senate Health and Human Services Committee decision on April 25, 2014, to refer a medical marijuana bill to a full sitting of the upper house for consideration. The bipartisan vote was a surprising three to seven in favor. The proposal has a bumpy road ahead of it, seeing that Gov. Mark Dayton favors research first.
The Marijuana Policy Project reports 12,051 marijuana-related arrests in 2012, with the softest penalty being $200 and enforced re-education. African-Americans in Minnesota are eight times more likely to face arrest than their white compatriots. Life is tough in the Gopher State if you have marijuana with you. Best keep your head down and not pop up into view when you visit.
The promoter of the bill is Scott Dibble (D). He has been senator since 2001 and piloted a bill that legalized gay marriage in 2013. Whether you praise him or disparage him, he sounds like someone who may get his way.
The Minnesota Senate Health and Human Services Committee meeting followed the now-familiar pattern of hearing from parents whose children already benefit from medical marijuana treatments, and expert witnesses from other states where the practice is legal. Psychiatrist Dr. Sue Sisley from Arizona College of Medicine created something of a sizzle when she said:
“We have a mature medical marijuana program that people aren’t afraid of anymore. The sky hasn’t fallen in these twenty states that have laws on the books.”
If approved, Scott Dibble’s bill will specify which patients may have what treatment following professional certification. They will receive medication from regulated dispensaries. The senator clearly knows what he is up against, and is suggesting a proven model that works well in other states.
Senate skeptics are less impressed. Carla Nelson (R) seemed more inclined to reinvent the wheel when she told CBS Minnesota, “without the scientific data, then we will never get to that point…. We will continue to practice what would be kind of like the wild west of medicine.”
She has powerful allies in the form of the Minnesota Medical Association and local law enforcement. However, time is on the side of the medical marijuana campaign. This could be a good time to acquire an interest in a piece of multi-purpose real estate in downtown Saint Paul.