Late on March 4, the Minnesota House Health and Human Services Policy Committee approved HF 1818 in an overwhelming, bipartisan vote. The compassionate bill will be heard next in the House Government Operations committee.
HF 1818, sponsored by Rep. Carly Melin, would allow Minnesotans who suffer from specified conditions to legally obtain, possess, and use marijuana with their doctors’ recommendations. It also creates a state-regulated program to dispense medical marijuana to qualified patients in a timely and safe manner. The Minnesota Legislature passed a similar proposal in 2009, only to see then Governor Tim Pawlenty veto it.
Early this morning on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann walked onto the stage to be interviewed. As she entered, Fallon’s house band and hip-hop icons The Roots played the beginning of a song by the legendary band Fishbone. While I won’t repeat the title of the song here, it seems to suggest that the Roots … do not think she is a truthful person.
On Monday, former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty announced his decision to run for President of the United States. This should have been cause for concern for marijuana reformers and medical marijuana patients, and today that concern was justified.
Gov. Pawlenty has been no friend to marijuana reform in the past. In 2009, he vetoed a bill that would have allowed only terminally ill Minnesotans to use marijuana to ease their pain in their final days. Even though this bill was narrowly tailored to address the concerns of law enforcement, Pawlenty vetoed it regardless, citing… further law enforcement concerns.
Given this disturbing behavior, and the damage that an anti-marijuana zealot in the White House could do to all the progress we have made in the last few years, we decided to find out if T-Paw still feels the same about the issue.
After speaking today at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C. on such subjects as limited government, federal interference in health care, and saving taxpayer money, MPP’s Bob Capecchi asked the former governor how he could justify vetoing the Minnesota medical marijuana bill, given his stances on these issues.
Pawlenty dodged these obvious inconsistencies completely, and deferred to his standard rhetoric.
“Marijuana? Yeah,” Pawlenty said. “Well… I stood with law enforcement on this issue. We just have a respectful difference on this issue.”
He also mentioned that law enforcement have pretty serious concerns about medical marijuana. Is one of those concerns losing the ability to waste taxpayer money arresting sick people? This difference of opinion doesn’t seem respectful to seriously ill people, let alone to ideological consistency or integrity.
Marijuana reform could become a huge issue during the next presidential election. It is important that we keep putting pressure on candidates to clearly state their position on the issue, and to hold them accountable for that stance in the polls. We need to confront every candidate at every opportunity! Some of us are sure to get chances to question the candidates prior to the election, so let’s use them!