I spoke with the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy’s Executive Director on the phone earlier this week. I was almost “LOLing” by the time we were done. The corruption and incompetence is actually kind of amusing. In the end, the Board of Pharmacy has helped us! Opening your state up to a lawsuit so you don’t have to respond to a legal argument is so helpful. Thanks for showing your true colors.
The Board of Pharmacy’s rewrite of Minnesota Code 152.02 will likely end up being litigated in a courtroom in the near future. Before I explain, let me rehash what has happened thus far:
July 22, 2010: Board of Pharmacy responds to Mr. Hanna’s Petition. Board opines that they are not REQUIRED to review marijuana’s Schedule I status.
December 2010: Board drafts language to change the law, introduced as HF 1520, in December 2010.
Kurt Hanna introduced a new petition at the beginning of 2011.
May 2011: The language the board drafted in December, in order to avoid responding to Mr. Hanna’s legal argument, passes in HF 57 and SF 1166, and is signed into law by the Governor last Wednesday. The language changes Minnesota Statute 152.02 from:
“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”
to now say:
“The Board of Pharmacy may not delete or reschedule a drug that is in Schedule I.” This change in the code has removed the state’s sole administrative remedy for marijuana’s improper Schedule I classification, removing a petitioner’s due process remedy to misclassification of a substance in the code, and thus opened the state up to a lawsuit. Good job, public servants!
WeedPress articles covering the situation:
So, with the recent change in law, Mr. Hanna’s petition cannot be responded to! Rather than follow the law, the Board acted swiftly to change it. They hijacked their state’s ability to retain state sovereignty on medical decisions, and sold out the citizens of Minnesota in the process. The next step, from what I understand, is court. I wonder if anyone is working on a lawsuit…
Following the corrupt and constitutionally shaky rewrite of the law last weekend, petitioner Kurt Hanna had this to say:
“Apparently banning drugs is important. It was tackled instead of our state budget, even though it was the 3rd to last day of the session. It’s funny that the state of Minnesota now only has one type of synthetic THC that can legally be prescribed, and it’s only available in pill form. Talk about a monopoly! Government regulatory bodies should not be run by individuals who currently work in the field that they are regulating. This breeds corruption. Let this email be a warning to all of you, the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy is out of control. Let’s all unite together to become a watchdog over these shifty individuals. They love money more than the Minnesota people. We must put them on a leash, or else this is only going to get worse.”
Mr. Wiberg called me Thursday. I took notes, and recorded the conversation on my tape recorder. Here’s some of the highlights of Mr. Wiberg’s pathetic attempt to spin the unconstitutional situation to a more favorable one for the Board.
“If any entity is going to put the state at odds with the federal government, it should be the legislature, and not the board of pharmacy,” said Mr. Wiberg. Mr. Wiberg went on to explain that one of the concerns the board had when the bill’s language was being drafted was that, if the board was to engage in the rule making process, the board was concerned that that would put state law at odds with the federal government. In regards to Subsection 8 of 152.02 of the Minnesota Code, Mr. Wiberg said the Board “was not quite sure about being obligated to do an annual review.”
For those who didn’t catch that entirely, Mr. Wiberg stated that the Board of Pharmacy changed the language of the law so that they wouldn’t disagree with federal law. (For anyone familiar with the concept of federalism, that excuse is simply invalid and not worthy of one iota of respect.) The Board wasn’t even quite sure what the former language, which has been in the code for many many years, obligated them to do! What we do know is this: by the Board’s rewrite of the law, they have killed Mr. Hanna’s current petition.
Mr. Wiberg responded to allegations that the law was re-written just to prevent Mr. Hanna’s petition, by pointing out that the bill to change the law was introduced in December 2010, before Mr. Hanna’s current petition was filed with the Board. Mr. Wiberg conveniently forgot that Mr. Hanna had filed a similar petition before December 2010 as well, but hey, that’s all chicken-vs-eggs in the end.
In Iowa, the language in our code did legally obligate the Board to review marijuana’s scientific classification of “no accepted medical use in the United States.” They ruled that yes, marijuana has accepted medical use, and yes, Schedule I must be amended as a matter of law. They then reported to the Legislature.
The ultimate decision is on the Legislature to reclassify marijuana, not the Board. Mr. Wiberg surely knows this. He told me he has spoke with Lloyd Jessen, the Executive Director of the Iowa Board of Pharmacy, about what happened here in Iowa. Hmmm. I wonder if Iowa’s success in getting the Board of Pharmacy to follow the law was what originally tipped the Minnesota Board off, and not Mr. Hanna’s petition. Oh, speculation is fun…
Mr. Wiberg tripped himself up when bringing up the 2008 medical marijuana bill that passed the House and Senate, which was vetoed by former Governer and pretend Republican Tim Pawlenty. Mr. Wiberg stated “That (situation) makes me think the Legislature didn’t think the Board should be the lead agency on the bill.” Apparently the Legislature did not consult the Board of Pharmacy, but the Health and Human Services Department.
So Mr. Wiberg, while knowing the Board of Pharmacy wouldn’t likely be the “lead agency” on the reclassification of marijuana, still felt a change in a long-standing statute’s language was necessary so the Board would not HAVE to review the science, because…the legislature should enact the change. Uh, duh…it’s already set up that way. That’s how it works in Iowa, and every other state as far as I know.
Claiming the Board changed the law because the Board was worried it would be the lead agency, then later offering evidence that the Board is NOT the lead agency, is what I like to call “doublespeak.”
Mr. Wiberg, and the Board of Pharmacy, knows exactly what they’re doing. It’s up to activists to check all of the facts. Hopefully people are paying attention.
At the end of our phone call, Mr. Wiberg really turned on the charm. After trying to tell me that the Board was NOT playing politics by working to change the law, and rather was trying to align state law with Federal law, I explained that hijacking Minnesota’s state sovereignty and handing it over to the federal government flies in the face of legislative intent of the Controlled Substances Act as Congress “explicitly contemplated a role for the states!” I also stated that it is a widely known fact that the Federal Government’s response to marijuana’s scientific classification has long been nothing but politics, and referenced the 1988 Administrative Judge Ruling and 1972 National Marihuana Commission findings as evidence.
By the Board deferring their state’s sovereignty to the federal government in order to “avoid conflict,” the Board is indeed engaging in politics.
I explained that the classification of marijuana at the federal level is dependent on the state addressing the issue first, and then notifying the federal government. This is what Iowa has been working on, and I feel I have a pretty good understanding of the legal argument. I’ll post the legal argument sometime in the near future on this blog. Once I was done explaining the law to a man who doesn’t understand it, Mr. Wiberg reiterated the “I’m not a lawyer” clarification, thanked me for the call, and promptly hung up.
Unless I’m completely wrong on the legal argument, Minnesota is REQUIRED to address marijuana’s improper Schedule 1 classification. It’s obvious that the Board is working their hardest to explain away their wrongdoing. The cowardly response to a “potential political conflict” with the Federal Government is an example of corruption as it’s finest. The Board is going to have a mighty fine time explaining this to the media if this crooked change of the law ever gets thrown out in court. I’ll be “LOLing” all the more, if that ever happens.
So, to recap: the Board of Pharmacy, after receiving a petition based on language in MN statute 152.02, changed the law to avoid responding to future petitions. After Mr. Wiberg posted a public response to WeedPress on the Board of Pharmacy Facebook page, he deleted the post in order to censor the public conversation. (Luckily, I have a copy.) The Board is trying to claim they’re “not engaging in politics;” that they’re “trying to align state law with federal law;” and that they “weren’t quite sure” about the duty 152.02 imposed on the Board. On top of all of that, Mr. Wiberg also informed me that the bill that changed the language in 152.02 was passed in a hurry, with limited debate, as they were at the end of the session….and that, my friends, is corruption 101. Well played, Board of Pharmacy, well played.