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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

The Advantages of Moving On Medical Marijuana

Category: Legislation
Posted: 03/06/14 14:54

by Dave Mindeman

The subject of marijuana has a lot of baggage that follows it. Especially with law enforcement.

The efforts to alleviate law enforcement fears in order to move on medical marijuana have become more tortured than they are worth.

Law enforcement will never be mollified because their attitude is entrenched in decades long cannabis drug policy that has been wrong from the beginning.

Marijuana is NOT a gateway drug. It is only involved with harder drugs because it has the same illegal status and is trafficked in the same way. Remove marijuana from the seedy methods of selling and it will cease to be identified with heroin or cocaine.

Marijuana does need to be regulated...and if we can find acceptable regulations that can make alcohol socially acceptable, then we can do the same for marijuana.

My view is that marijuana shouldn't be limited to just medicinal use. However, its use for nausea and pain are relevant enough that if we can get a restricted use for medical purposes, then we should accept that vehicle for its legalization.

The regulation and restriction that will be needed to specify it for that purpose alone will be cumbersome and lead to more needless penalties and legal ramifications - as well as more prosecutorial time that could better be served on more serious problems. But, if that is all that can be done right now, then so be it.

Governor Dayton has abdicated his decision making on this subject by deferring to law enforcement. But law enforcement has never moved beyond marijuana as a street drug. They cannot separate the drug from the criminal avenues from which it has to be sold under its current status. They have never accepted the ongoing medical evidence - they only see current legal issues.

The other factor that begs to be debated is the incarceration numbers on illegal marijuana....

....marijuana arrests now comprise more than one-half (approximately 52 percent) of all drug arrests reported in the United States. A decade ago, marijuana arrests comprised just 44 percent of all drug arrests.

Using this magnitude of law enforcement resources to fight against a drug that is hardly more dangerous than alcohol, makes little sense. How much money could we save by eliminating marijuana arrests, convictions, and incarcerations? I think the dollar figure would be staggering.

And that doesn't even account for the potential for jobs that would be available for the growth, manufacture, and sale of marijuana. As well as the tax revenue available to the states that allow legalization.

Colorado expects to take in about $184 million in tax revenue from marijuana in the first 18 months after legislation.

Minnesota needs to seriously debate this issue and hopefully find a way to move, at the very least, a medical marijuana statute.

This has too many medical, legal, and economic advantages to ignore.
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The "Nuclear" Option

Category: Legislation
Posted: 11/21/13 12:36

by Dave Mindeman

Majority Leader Harry Reid has finally had enough. He is looking to invoke the "nuclear" option and end filibusters on Presidential appointees and federal court nominations.

What took you so long, Harry?

This new rule change does not apply to legislation and also exempts Supreme Court nominees. This is reasonable. Any President - Republican or Democrat - needs to be able to pick the people he wants to work for him or her....and the courts need to have positions filled to simply do their job.

The Federal courts are full of Bush nominees and the Republicans have been trying to stonewall any replacements in hopes of getting back a Republican president or at least a GOP majority in the Senate.

Any of that could happen but the Democrats have handcuffed themselves in regards to filibuster changes because of those possibilities.

Given the pseudo " good word" of Mitch McConnell, who has agreed countless times to "compromises" to avoid any filibuster change - only to reneg on the agreement immediately - this has become necessary for Democrats, even if only in the short term.

We have court positions that need filling. It has not only become a need to fix the balance of philosophy, but so many positions are vacant that the court cannot do its job.

We have seen how a one-sided ideological court can make a game change on how we govern. It is time for Democrats to balance the scales.

I just hope Reid will stand by his declaration this time.

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Mayo Clinic: The Wiser Corporate Investment

Category: Legislation
Posted: 04/03/13 00:30

by Dave Mindeman

The Mayo Clinic proposal has run into problems at the legislature. There seems to be skeptics about how the financing for the state portion will work.

Here's my question. Where was that skepticism when the Vikings Stadium legislation was rammed through the legislature? Here we sit with a funding mechanism that has been questionable from the beginning and where the funding actuality is even worse. The state was given assurances that this wasn't anything to worry about. Unfortunately, we based that assurance on the entities that stood to profit.

Not cool.

So now we get the Mayo Clinic coming to the legislature. They are asking for a tidy sum --over $500 million. But they say it will be paid for by future tax revenues that result from a major expansion project....as well as local Rochester development around the project. The sum will be acquired in increments over a 20 year period. Not all at once as some of the early speculation put forward....but in small amounts when it is needed.

Compare the idea of the Vikings Stadium - a speculative venture to be sure with unproven gambling proceeds as its basis.

Then compare the Mayo Clinic request. A medical facility that employs more than 3,800 physicians and scientists and 50,900 allied health staff.The practice specializes in treating difficult cases through tertiary care. It spends over $500 million a year on research.

In 2013, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, was ranked as the #3 overall hospital in the United States by U.S. News & World Report. A total of 4,793 hospitals were considered and ranked in 16 specialties from cancer and heart disease to respiratory disorders and urology; 140, or less than 3 percent of the total, were ranked in even one of the 16 specialties. Of the 148 hospitals that are ranked in one or more specialties, 17 qualified for the Honor Roll by earning high scores in at least six specialties. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, was ranked in the top 10 in all but one of 16 specialties, in the top 5 in 11 specialties, and was the #1 ranked hospital in four specialties.

Mayo Clinic has an impressive track record and what they are doing is a desire to keep themselves working at the highest level.

Compare the number of people employed by the Vikings and the staffing with the Mayo Clinic....well, its really not a comparison.

And what are they asking for? They want the state to pay for infrastructure. Isn't that what we, as the state, would be doing anyway?

I understand Rep. Lencewski's concerns about what kind of precedent this may set for other corporate requests. But didn't we already open that door long ago with stadium request after stadium request after stadium request?

I think the return on investment from Mayo will far exceed what we get out of all these sports facilities. Which, I remind you, may not last 20 years of usefulness in total.

We want to invest in jobs, right? So, let's do that.
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