On September 16, 2017 the Board of Directors of Minnesota NORML elected Thomas C. Gallagher to the position of Chair of the Board. Gallagher is a Minneapolis Criminal Lawyer who twice campaigned for election as a Representative in the Minnesota House in District 61B (incumbent Paul Thissen) in 2014 and 2016. He was the endorsed candidate of Republican Party of Minnesota in both election cycles.
The 2016 Minnesota Legislature made some changes to Minnesota “Controlled Substance” crime laws, effective August 1, 2016. One of those created a new Gross Misdemeanor level crime for certain “controlled substance” possession crimes, for less than 0.25 grams or one dosage unit or less – but only for a person “who has not been previously convicted of a violation of this chapter or a similar offense in another jurisdiction; and only for possession of “controlled substances” other than heroin.
The Minnesota State Senate and State House now have a Bill pending to amend the Minnesota Controlled Substances Act to add various drugs and substances to the various Schedules. This is a perfect opportunity for us to urge the Minnesota Senate and Minnesota House to amend that Bill to either deschedule marijuana, or at least move it down to Schedule 2.
Trial by jury limits the power of the government to enforce laws in ways that violate the conscience of the community. Yet when a chronic pain patient using marijuana as medicine is charged with a marijuana crime, but is not permitted to have their physician testify, or to testify about it themselves; there is no meaningful jury trial. When the court prevents the jury from hearing defense evidence, excluding the defense, her right to present a defense is violated.
Minnesota should restore the rights of the individual and of the jury, by passing a law guaranteeing the right to a medical necessity defense for medical marijuana patients charged with marijuana crimes in Minnesota. This history and background shows why the Bill currently in the Minnesota legislature should be adopted into law.