Our opinion: The conversation of cannabis legalization needs to continue

Published 5:20 am Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Last Saturday’s listening session on cannabis legislation was an important and positive step toward the future.

But a close and legitimate look at legalization of cannabis needs to be considered from both sides of the coin.

This is a tricky subject, especially when you consider the stigma that’s been attached to marijuana since early in the 1900s and continues to be listed by the federal government as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, along with heroin, LSD and ecstasy. It should serve as a reminder that Schedule 1 is the most restrictive level of controlled substances, while below that, at Schedule 2, is methamphetamines and cocaine, raising questions of an altogether different nature.

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Essentially, there are two primary versions of cannabis that people currently tend to turn to: CBD, which has very little if any intoxicating properties, and THC, that contains the “high” people get from taking it.

Patients can benefit from CBD in ways like relieving insomnia, anxiety and treating pain associated with conditions like epilepsy, according to Dr. Peter Grinspoon, M.D., in a 2018 article for Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School.

Grinspoon goes on to say that medical marijuana is used for treating things like chronic pain and is largely seen as being safer than opioids, which are currently at crisis levels in America.

Minnesota is currently one of 33 states that have legalized marijuana, but it is one of the most restrictive as well, with just two companies licensed to grow and distribute throughout the state alongside a concerning few dispensaries.

However, we are far from giving 100 percent support as it stands now for legalization and decriminalization.

There are legitimate concerns that have to be studied and worked through.This includes how the state will be able to cover the costs of full legalization and will it be easier for kids to use, which Minnesota House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler admitted Saturday that research shows smoking marijuana during developmental years is harmful.

Other questions include, how does this affect employers as well as the public safety aspects?

There is enough research on the public stage to warrant a closer look, and if the numbers don’t matter, then the emotion shown by people at Saturday’s event — people who are directly affected by things like cancer and MS — should warrant the continued research and study of medical cannabis. If we can find safe and strong answers to these questions, then we owe it to those that can make the best use of medical marijuana to continue having civil conversations about the subject.

One thing is clear, this is no longer a subject we can simply push to the back of an agenda. Close, mature scrutinization needs to be a part of this conversation.