Did weepy messaging about suffering kids kill real medical marijuana reform in Minnesota?


Much is being made about a new Star Tribune Minnesota Poll: Majority support legalization of medical marijuana. That seems like good news for those of us who want marijuana made legal if heavily regulated and available by prescription from doctors.

Unfortunately, there’s this policy tidbit buried on page two of the online article:

Rather than risk another gubernatorial veto, House sponsor Rep. Carly Melin, DFL-Hibbing, said she and other lawmakers are trying to hammer out a short-term compromise with law enforcement — possibly a bill that would legalize only the nonnarcotic marijuana strain used to treat children with seizure disorders.

Late in January, Bluestem had noted that the dominant storytelling used by those pushing the older Melin bill was rather disingenious, using the heart-wretching stories of young children with seizure disorders who are helped by “Charlotte’s Web,” described as a sort of medical ditch weed by City Pages’ Jesse Marx:

so low in THC and high in CBD, a non-psychoactive compound, that it’s classified as hemp. When ingested as a gel or pill, it has allowed children with Dravet to not only control their seizures, but also regain cognitive functions.

This article is reposted from TCDP media partner Bluestem Prairie. Check out the links below for other recent Bluestem Prairie stories:

We wrote in Medical marijuana: Did Melin let law enforcement lobbyists’ cash cow out of the dime bag?:

To be sure, the news feed in Minnesota and elsewhere is filling with heart-breaking stories of young children with Dravet Syndrome, a cruel form of epilepsy that strikes children. The most promising treatment is Charlotte’s Web, a variety of medical medicine that’s low in THC, the compound that creates a buzz, but rich with another compound, CBD, that addresses the seizures, while increasing cognitive ability in some cases.

But the focus on Dravet Syndrome sufferers creates as disingenuous a lacuna for legalization supporters as the stealth financial incentive does for those who oppose changes in hemp laws. Bluestem would be more comfortable with a consideration of medical marijuana that wasn’t pinned on this thin slice of the industry that so helps such innocent children. Let’s talk about the broad spectrum of people living with sickness and disease, shall we, and the range of medicial marijuana products that can aid their symptoms.

We support changing hemp laws, but we would like the discussion to go beyond the poster child level. Our gut reaction to the current PR blitz is to remember the early days of the AIDS/HIV debate, when children were positioned as innocent victims and the rest of people with HIV somehow less than human addicts and gay men (Bluestem’s editor mourned them equally).

A public debate that implicitly clings to an analogous frame (or remains silent) about the range of potency of medical pot products and those served by them does a disservice in the long range, especially when three-fourths of the population supports legalization,already convinced of the efficacy of medical marijuana.

It looks as if the focus on child seizure disorder victims by Minnesotans for Compassionate Care, which crafted the bill, just backfired as far as the needs of other sick people go.

In December, USA Today reported Parents seek hope in medical marijuana:

Advocates for legalized medical marijuana think pressure from parents is starting to nudge lawmakers.

“It’s really difficult for politicians to stand there and say, ‘No, we are going to let your kid suffer because it is not politically prudent for us to do this,'” said Morgan Fox, spokesman for Marijuana Policy Project, a Washington, D.C., advocacy group.

But the rest of you sick folks? The short-term politically prudent thing is to leave you with your suffering, rather than show political courage in an election year.

It’s enough to make a blogger burn a pile of self-help books on leadership.