by Rep. Bob Barrett
Forty Minnesota legislators (37 DFL and 3 GOP) are calling for the legalization of medical marijuana in the state of Minnesota. There are some that swear by the positive medicinal benefits of marijuana related to pain and nausea relief. However, the other side of the coin is that there are several negative consequences of legalization of a drug in which over 4 million people are currently addicted to, which is second only to alcohol in our country.
I had the honor of attending the Chisago County board meeting two weeks ago to provide the commissioners with an update from the Capitol. In doing so, I also gave the board forewarning about House File 1818, the “medical marijuana” bill, which the legislature will be taking up next spring. I also met with the Chisago County Tobacco and Marijuana Education Team last week to discuss this bill.
Among other provisions, HF1818 includes a provision allowing for up to 52 medical marijuana dispensaries (retail stores) in Minnesota. Based on the size of each county, one could be located in Chisago County.
I have been active in the community and state regarding the escalating use and abuse of different forms of marijuana (medical, synthetic, recreational). I was the chief author of, and worked with Governor Dayton on, a bill in 2011 that made it more difficult to sell synthetic cannabis to the young people of Minnesota. However, more needs to be done. Still today, young people from Duluth to Worthington are frying their brains using this poison that is still being sold by rogue businesses.
I believe the legalization of medical marijuana is an extremely misguided attempt to solve a problem better handled with existing medicine, and it will only serve to perpetuate the substantial existing problems in our country related to illicit drug use and abuse, especially among young people.
According to preliminary report recently released from The Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area about the impact of marijuana legalization in the state of Colorado, we can see a negative trend:
• Increase in marijuana use among youth and young adults.
• Increase in marijuana-impaired driving fatalities.
• Rise in number of marijuana-addicted users in treatment.
And we also have to worry about other potential negative consequences:
• Diversion of marijuana for unintended purposes.
• Adverse impact and cost of the physical and mental health damage caused by marijuana use.
• The economic cost to society will far outweigh any potential revenue or generated.
The societal cost of drug use and abuse is enormous, especially related to our nation’s young people whose brains are not fully developed and are more susceptible to negative consequences. The legalization of medical marijuana in Minnesota would only serve to make this drug more accessible to our younger populations, and consequently perpetuate these societal costs.
I’m committed to protecting public safety and the health of our state’s children by opposing the legalization of marijuana. Please contact me if you have any further questions about this or any other issue being addressed at the State Capitol.