Police on guard as MN gears up for medical marijuana program

Sample packaging
A sample of packaging created by Minnesota Medical Solutions. The company is one of two who were chosen from among 12 applicants to grow, process and sell medical cannabis in Minnesota.
Courtesy of Minnesota Medical Solutions

Police chiefs across the state are preparing for the launch of Minnesota's medical marijuana program this summer.

Minnesota passed one of the country's most restrictive medical marijuana laws last year. It prohibits personally growing marijuana or smoking marijuana and can be prescribed for less than a dozen conditions.

Kevin Sabet, a former senior adviser at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and head of the Drug Policy Institute at the University of Florida, is speaking at a gathering of police chiefs in St. Cloud this week. Sabet said he's so far been impressed with the narrowness of Minnesota's medical marijuana program.

"Advocates, many of them who want to legalize marijuana outright, they don't really like the program, they want it to be a cover for full legalization," Sabet said. "Law enforcement has actually played a pretty good role in trying to keep it limited."

Sabet, a critic of legalization, said many police chiefs are already on guard about people trying to exploit or expand the law.

"There's going to be heightened awareness about what kind of people are legitimately allowed to have marijuana, and what aren't according to what their conditions are," Sabet said. "Keeping it in a non-smoked form, I think law enforcement is going to have to be really watching this."

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Other states have legalized marijuana, but Sabet said he believes that full legalization would lead to the creation of a new unhealthy industry.

"If people think that legalization is about getting people out of jail, they're totally wrong. Legalization is about money," Sabet said.

Sabet is scheduled to give a keynote address titled "Seven Great Myths about Marijuana" at the police chiefs' conference on Tuesday.

Minnesota's medical marijuana program is set to launch on July 1. Minnesota Medical Solutions and LeafLine Labs have been chosen by the state to manufacture medical marijuana products in pill or oil form. The companies are establishing distribution centers across the state.