Minnesota Network for Progressive Action

About Comments
The mnpACT! blog welcomes all comments from visitors, which are immediately posted, but we also filter for spammers:
  • No active URLs or web links are allowed (use www.yourweb.com).
  • No drug or pharma- ceutical names are allowed.
  • Your comment "Name" must be one word with no spaces and cannot be an email address.
You should also note that a few IP addresses and homepage URLs have been banned from posting comments because they have posted multiple spam messages.

Please be aware we monitor ALL comments and reserve the right to delete obvious spam comments.



 
Politics Blogs - Blog Top Sites

Listed on BlogShares

 
site search

Site Meter
 
  Progressive Political Blog

Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

"Historic" Drug Compromise Guidelines Oddly Penalizes Weed

Category: Society
Posted: 04/29/16 13:00

by Dave Mindeman

A crime legislation compromise proposal is being classified as "historic" in terms of changes made to the sentencing structure of drug related offenses.

After weeks of closed-door wrangling between law enforcement, defense attorneys and lawmakers, a compromise has been reached on an effort at the Capitol to lighten criminal penalties for drug offenders statewide.

I am not sure why this had to be a "closed door" negotiation, but that is how this came to be. And there are some good things here:

1. In general "sentencing guidelines" -- the amount of prison time a convicted criminal will be presumed to get when sentenced by a judge -- for all drug crimes, will be reduced, regardless of degree.

2. Additionally, the amount of confiscated drugs required to trigger a charge has been increased for drugs like heroine, methamphetamine or cocaine. (Marijuana is a different story which will be discussed below).

3. It would define what a "trace" amount of drugs is -- a definition that has been lacking in current law and leading to a lot of law enforcement discretionary interpretation. And possession charges for trace amounts would become a gross misdemeanor, rather than a felony for a first offense.

4. Sentences for what prosecutors have called "kingpin" dealers -- those possessing or selling especially large quantities of drugs -- would become mandatory, unalterable by a judge. Also, if the accused possessed a gun, the old, harsher sentencing levels would stay in place, in addition to being mandatory. Prior law didn't differentiate much from users and dealers.

5. Mandatory penalties would be eliminated on lesser-degree drug crimes, allowing judges to be more lenient.

If utilized properly, these guidelines could reduce the incarceration rate in Minnesota prisons and give judges more latitude.

But there is one very troubling and puzzling provision....

For marijuana, on the other hand, the 100 kg required for a first-degree possession charge has been reduced to 50 kg.

In other words, marijuana was actually singled out for harsher restrictions.

This compromise was agreed to because....

Defense attorneys noted that Minnesota's marijuana thresholds are extraordinarily permissive compared to most other states, and agreed to allow them to become more strict.

I have trouble understanding why marijuana, which has medicinal legality in Minnesota, would get treated the opposite of other illegal drugs. Especially when the purpose of this compromise is to lighten the load on our prisons. Why not just leave marijuana alone? What difference does it make that our current laws are "permissive", when the tendency in the country moves towards complete legalization?

I expect that the law enforcement establishment lobbied for this. They seem to have some kind of inherent bias against marijuana and cling to decades old ideas and stereotypes about this drug.

The compromise guidelines will probably move through the legislature fairly quickly...because it has law enforcement's blessing. The marijuana aspect is troubling, but as the mood of the country changes on recreational use, maybe it won't make any difference in the long run. However, in the short term, marijuana possession will, ironically, be treated worse than your basic heroin and cocaine user.

That just feels wrong.
comments (0) permalink

Prince's Death May Have Been Drug Related, But It's Complicated

Category: Society
Posted: 04/28/16 17:24

by Dave Mindeman

I realize there is always a certain fascination in the circumstances surrounding a celebrity's death. In Prince's case, with his rock star background and mysterious personna, it all gets intensified.

Recently the media reported that Prince had prescription drugs in his possession at the time of his death. Well, he was 57 - had epilepsy - and double hip deterioration (which he refused surgery for because he is a Jehovah's Witness and cannot have a blood transfusion). Obviously, he had several medications and he had a chronic pain situation. More than likely, he has been taking opioid pain killers, (like Vicodin), for some time and there are indications that he was in a treatment program.

Certainly, prescription medication could have been involved in Prince's death, but, frankly, I do not think that should lessen anyone's opinion of him. It is doubtful that his medications were recreational in nature. Like millions of other Americans he was trying to live a normal life under painful circumstances and, in his case, with the public constantly watching.

Like other Americans, I have the feeling that Prince probably did not use proper care in the use of alcohol when taking prescription pain medication. The additive effects are hard to predict and have many other factors to consider. That could have complicated things during a medical crisis.

I guess what I wish to convey is that this country has a tendency to sweep opiod pain killer addiction under the rug. Our concerns focus on heroin and cocaine....and wrongly on marijuana.

As a pharmacist I saw people with chronic pain go through Vicodin or Oxycontin or Percocet with regular freqency. The attitude was that if the doctor prescribes it, it must be safe....and how I take it is my own business. Which is fine if taken strictly as directed and over short time periods. But chronic pain is seldom cured because by definition it has an untreatable cause or is unexplained. And that sets a lot of people up for an addictive lifestyle.

People get lulled into a false sense of security. The opioids control the pain well, at least at first, and you learn to adjust accordingly. But as the body's tolerance for the painkiller grows, they become less effective in pain control and the tendecy to increase the frequency of consumption or to increase the dose becomes the real danger.

A person who is on pain killers for a chronic situation do not think of themselves as addicted. They are treating their condition with medicine. Their doctor knows about it. But soon the patient will be calling the doctor to increase the frequency of refills or indicate that once in a while they need to take an extra tablet. And then it starts to gravitate to lies about losing the medication or spilling some tablets down the sink. Which increases, in drastic cases, to forging prescriptions.

I guess I am talking about this because we tend to think of musicians as being susceptible to the "drug culture". They get into that pattern of seeking greater experiences and more willing to experiment.

But there is also the day to day drug battle that millions of everyday citizens work with as they simply wish to seek relief from pain that forces them to live differently from what they wish.

I have the feeling that Prince fits into the latter category, although there is certainly the possibility that he could have mixed his regular pain medication with other stronger substances. After all, he certainly lived in a world exposed to that. But most of the relevant data that is out so far doesn't really to point to that.

Whatever the toxicology report states, I would be careful to just dismiss this as another "rock and roll culture drug death".

The truth is often very complicated.
comments (0) permalink

Greater Minnesota Is Bewildered By Their House "Advocates"

Category: GOP House Republicans
Posted: 04/27/16 14:36

by Dave Mindeman

Dan Dorman is a former Republican Minnesota House member who served 8 years in the House, retiring in the 2006 election cycle. Dorman was a greater Minnesota representative serving Albert Lea - Freeborn and Mower counties. After serving, he took his knowledge to become a broader advocate for greater Minnesota. Dorman became Executive Director of the Greater Minnesota Partnership, an Economic Development Program launched by the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities. Dorman spends some time lobbying the Minnesota Legislature for the Partnership. Dorman also serves as a member of the boards of the Riverland Community College Foundation and the Albert Lea Community Foundation.

So I would say that Dan Dorman understands greater Minnesota.

But he is not happy with the Minnesota House Republicans. A couple of his Facebook posts sum up his frustration with the House approach to broadband.

Interesting day on broadband funding in St. Paul. Senator Matt Schmit (DFL, District 21) held a press conference calling for $85 million in funding and language updates allowing more communities to be considered for funding. Standing with him were 14 groups including cities, counties, townships, school boards, the county eda association, and state eda group.

Dorman's group supports the Senate position on broadband funding.

But then the House weighs in....

Meanwhile, in the House they are taking up a bill that takes money from economic development programs to add $15 million into a broadband fund making the qualifications for funding even more restrictive than they are now. Most of Freeborn, Mower, and Steele counties are already cut out from possible funding, the House moves even further backwards.

Further backwards.

There is your advocates for greater Minnesota. The legislators that campaigned on how much they could do for greater MN if given the chance.

Well, they are failing in that regard. And what's more, the paltry numbers they are willing to invest are coming out of other programs meant to increase economic development. And why? So they can save the surplus for their massive tax cut.

Really, who are the House Republicans kidding?
comments (0) permalink

Calendar

« May 2016 »
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31


Latest posts


Archive

(one year)

Categories


Comments



Links


RSS Feeds

RSS 0.91
RSS 2.0

 
 
 
Powered by
Powered by SBlog
 
Copyright © Minnesota Network for Progressive Action. All rights reserved. Legal. Privacy Policy. Sitemap.