Minnesota is set to become the 21st medical marijuana state, if you can call a state that doesn’t allow actual marijuana to be used medically as “medical marijuana state”. The Minnesota House had passed a severely restrictive medical marijuana bill. In it, only one grow site and three distribution centers would be allowed, where the Senate preferred 55 centers total. Marijuana could not be smoked and vaporization was restricted to use under a doctor’s supervision only, where the Senate bill would have allowed unsupervised vaporization. Pain, nausea, wasting, and PTSD included in the Senate bill were not included in the House bill. In compromise negotiations to appease the governor and law enforcement, the House gave in to allow two grow sites and eight distribution centers. The Senate gave in to ban not just smoking of marijuana, but any use of the raw marijuana plant at all. Minnesota patients will only be allowed pills, medibles, tinctures, and vaporizable oils, and pain, nausea, wasting, and PTSD patients need not apply as they are not covered under the compromise.
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss, as far as New York City marijuana arrests go. The city, which has long been America’s marijuana arrest capital, released data showing that arrests under the new administration of Bill de Blasio are continuing the 28,000+ arrests per year trend of the previous Michael Bloomberg administration. Marijuana was decriminalized in 1977 in New York; however, starting with the Rudolf Guiliani administration, NYPD officers would “stop and frisk” most young minority males in minority neighborhoods and ask them to remove from their pockets any weed they detected. Once out of the pocket, that was “marijuana in public view”, which still remains an arrestable misdemeanor in the state. By 2011, there were over 50,000 marijuana arrests per year. That number declined greatly when NYPD Commissioner Kelly ordered police to abandon “stop and frisk” abuses, but 28,000 still remains a huge number of very racially disproportionate arrests in a supposedly decriminalized state.
A weekend impaired driving checkpoint in Larimer County, Colorado last weekend nabbed exactly zero stoned drivers. The checkpoint, part of Colorado Department of Transportation’s ongoing efforts to combat impaired driving. From Friday night at 10:55pm to Saturday morning at 2:30am, officers detained 1,572 drivers at the checkpoint. Twenty of those drivers were booked for DUI alcohol, but no driver was cited for driving under the influence of marijuana. The one marijuana charge officers did make was for an underaged driver found in possession of marijuana and paraphernalia and there was one charge for minor in possession of alcohol.
Television’s Dr. Mehmet Oz has become the latest high-profile celebrity doctor to endorse medical use of marijuana. Dr. Oz told interviewer Larry King, “I grew up with most of my generation thinking that marijuana was something Satan was throwing at Americans and a communist plot.” Dr. Oz continued, “I think that most of us have come around to the belief that marijuana is hugely beneficial when used correctly for medicinal purposes.” Dr. Oz joins ABC’s chief medical officer, Dr. Richard Besser, who recently told Denver’s The Cannabist that “I went into this story feeling that I don’t think marijuana should be legalized. But I came out of this story thinking, actually, I was wrong.” Dr. Sanjay Gupta was the first TV doctor to publicly change his opposition to medical marijuana, writing in an op-ed announcing his first “Weed” documentary, “I’ve apologized for some of the earlier reporting, because I think we’ve been terribly and systematically misled in this country for some time, and I did part of that misleading.”
Denver has relented and will allow the “Classically Cannabis” bring-your-own-pot concert fundraising series to occur. The Colorado Symphony Orchestra, bending to the requests of the city, made the events VIP invitation-only when the city complained the event would violate prohibitions against “open and public” pot smoking, despite the fact the concerts would be held in a private gallery and pot smoking would only be allowed on a private patio. Also the orchestra removed any references to the concerts on its website and refunded tickets already purchased by the public to soothe the city that event isn’t open to the public. The Orchestra’s annual “Beethoven and Brews” events, however, will remain open to the public, advertised on their website, and allow patrons to enjoy classical music while being openly served legal drugs in public by legal businesses allowed to sell drugs so that the listeners don’t have to bring in their own supply of drugs.