Next door in Minnesota a heated debate is brewing about legalizing medical marijuana. Democratic Governor Mark Dayton has said he’ll sign a medical marijuana bill, but only if the state’s top law enforcement officials will get behind it. But they won’t.
So second term State Rep. Carly Melin (D-Hibbing) is doing what someone should have done a long, long time ago. She’s wondering out loud what the true motives of law enforcement’s opposition to medical marijuana really are, and maybe even more importantly, wondering why law enforcement officials should have such a central role in a policy debate that ought to be left to public health officials, the medical community, and regular citizens.
Melin is claiming that during an attempt to negotiate a compromise bill with Minnesota’s top law enforcement associations Dennis Flaherty, executive director of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, ” explicitly told her that he was worried that legalization — in any form — could lead to harmful reductions in the federal grants that are an important funding source for many police agencies. ” Apparently another concern is that legalized marijuana will reduce the boost to budgets associated with seizing assets from marijuana busts.
Melin was careful to say that she thinks many in law enforcement have legitimate concerns about medical marijuana and public safety, but added that the uncompromising posture of Minnesota’s top cops makes it “ pretty obvious that something else is going on here.”
At the very least it seems to me that law enforcement agencies with a strong financial incentive to maintain the status quo, and for the most part without the proper background or education necessary to contribute thoughtfully to this debate, shouldn’t have the loudest voice in the room on marijuana legalization/decriminalization, medical or otherwise.
So good on Carly Melin for having the courage to say out loud what needs to be said.
Bad on Mark Dayton for his deference to a cop lobby with a stance on this issue that ought to be, at the very least, suspect.