Bills, Current Events, Legal, Politics

A Hijacking of State Sovereignty: Is this politics, or science?

Well, this is confusing.

Minnesota activist Kurt Hanna sent the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy a petition on March 16th to remove cannabis from Schedule I. The Minnesota Board of Pharmacy is currently required to respond to this petition within 60 days under Minnesota Statute 14.09:

“The state Board of Pharmacy, after consulting with the Advisory Council on Controlled Substances, shall annually, on or before May 1 of each year, conduct a review of the placement of controlled substances in the various schedules.”

As of right now, the Board of Pharmacy will respond to this petition on May 11th, which also happens to be the 30th anniversary of Bob Marley’s death.

However, there is a bill in the works, HF1520, that will remove this language and replace it with this:

“The Board of Pharmacy may not delete or reschedule a drug that is in Schedule I, except as provided in subdivision 12.”

“Except as provided in subdivision 12” means that the Board of Pharmacy will only reschedule marijuana with permission from the DEA.

As a concerned citizen, I would expect the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy to strongyly oppose this usurpation of state sovereignty. However, it looks like this was their idea. I can’t imagine how this would be beneficial to Minnesota citizens.

So, to summarize: The Minnesota Board of Pharmacy is attempting to change a long-standing law in order to hand authority, originally reserved to a state agency in Minnesota, over to a federal agency that has a history of lying about the science of cannabis.

Welp. So much for state sovereignty. Luckily, if this bill passes, there may be a constitutional hurdle it faces. More on that later.

By the way (and correct me if I’m wrong), isn’t the Board of Pharmacy’s duty to review the status of ALL schedules (not just Schedule I, the ONLY schedule being targeted by the Board in their proposed legislation) delegated to them for a reason? And what has changed that makes them unable to fulfill their responsibility?

If I were a Minnesota citizen, I would be absolutely furious at the sponsor of this bill, House Representative Joe Mullery. The text of the bill states that it’s intent includes “aligning state controlled substance schedules with federal controlled substance schedules.”

It appears that Mr. Mullery and the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy is not aware that the authority to determine medicinal issues lies with each individual state, not the federal government. In GONZALES V. OREGON 546 U.S. 243 (2006), the court explained that “The [Controlled Substances Act] explicitly contemplates a role for the States in regulating controlled substances.” (See §903.) When the United States Attorney General attempted to overturn Oregon’s assisted suicide program, Oregon sued the federal government and won. Medical issues are reserved to the states on a state-by-state basis, Mr. Mullery. I hope you’ve read this groundbreaking case. Staying up-to-date on case law that pertains to legislation you’ve drafted is important.

Furthermore, in GONZALES V. RAICH 545 U.S. 1 (2005), Justice O’Connor stated this in her dissent:

“Federalism promotes innovation by allowing for the possibility that “a single courageous State may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.”

It appears to me that the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy is unwilling to fulfill their statutory obligations. Why else would they try to change the language of the law?

When Jonathan Narcisse (whom I campaigned for when he ran for governor of Iowa last year) was serving on the Des Moines school board, the length of member’s terms were reduced from four years to three years in order to get him out of his position due to his questioning of current practices. The school board did this in order to avoid any political embarrassment.

In 2010, following a lawsuit against the Iowa Board of Pharmacy, the Pharmacy Board held a series of hearings around the state. I’m proud to say I testified alongside other citizens at two of the hearings, and am also happy to thank the Board of Pharmacy for doing their job as required by Iowa law. While the hearings were going on, the American Medical Association came out in support of removing marijuana from schedule I. On February 17, 2010, while I was serving contempt of court following a Constitutional argument I made, the Iowa Board of Pharmacy ruled that marijuana meets the criteria for “accepted medical use within the United States and recommended removing marijuana from Schedule I to reflect this discovery.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Mr. Mullery isn’t trying to play politics in the name of science. Maybe the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy isn’t trying to shirk their responsibility to their citizens to do their part to make scientific decisions and have control over what happens in their state. As it currently appears to me, however, this is politics as usual. Minnesota citizens deserve better.

Concerned Minnesota citizens, please contact your local and state representatives and urge them to NOT support this bill. If you have any questions about the petition, or this bill, please contact Kurt Hanna at Kurt@mnNORML.org.

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