By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
Joni Whiting runs a hand through her long, graying hair and pets the top of a rose box that contains the ashes of her daughter Stephanie.
Spread out along Joni's couch in Jordan are the photographs detailing Stephanie's decline. The first one stars a bubbly teenage girl, and it's shot at such an angle as to make the mole on her pale cheek look like a mere shadow.
That shadow sowed the seeds of what was diagnosed after high school as melanoma. Ten attempts by surgeons to excise the tumors from Stephanie's face proved fruitless.
"Eventually," Joni says, "there was nothing left to cut."
The next set of photographs, taken two years into Stephanie's treatment, shows an emaciated young woman with yellowed, sunken eyes. Her daily regimen of painkillers offered little relief from the severe nausea that kept her from eating.
Then one day a doctor quietly suggested she try marijuana.
With the sun peeking through her living room blinds, Joni points to a Thanksgiving day photograph taken in 2002. The corner of Stephanie's mouth appears to be melting into the black boils that eat away at her jawline, ear, and neck. Still, the plate in front of her is stacked with celery and cauliflower.
By then Stephanie had tried Marinol, an FDA-approved pill that contains THC, but it had only gotten her high. A couple hits of weed, on the other hand, renewed the young woman's appetite and — although she'd lost most of her teeth — allowed her to rejoin the family for a meal.
"That plant did so much more for my daughter than any of the medicines that the doctor gave her," Joni says, tapping on the Thanksgiving photo. "Who's gonna look at this picture and tell me she doesn't deserve the dignity of having access to something that will ease the pain?"
In January 2003, three months after Stephanie first found relief from marijuana, her heart stopped. She died about an hour after midnight, clinging to her mother's hand.
Joni's story, and others like it, will soon echo in the chambers of the state Capitol. In just a few weeks, the state Legislature will take another look at a bill that could help thousands of patients like Stephanie. All eyes will be on legislators as Minnesota decides whether it wants to be the 21st state to legalize marijuana for medical use.
"There's literally no good reason to be against it," says state Sen. Scott Dibble, a DFL sponsor of the bill. "And the moral question is so clear: People are suffering and they're suffering to be relieved."
This time, it's not just the bleeding hearts and stoners who have gotten behind medical marijuana. Supporters' numbers have been bolstered by a rising tide of Ron Paul-type Republicans who see the impending debate as a chance to take back the GOP from social conservatives by winning over young voters.
"Gay marriage has gone through a similar evolution in society," says Karl Eggers, a Libertarian activist. "It's a scary, unknown thing to a lot of people, but if somebody wants to live that way, and they love one another, why should we stop them? It's the same concept applied to chemicals and to biology."
George Weiblen navigates through a crowded bar, slipping behind a curtain and onto a dimly lit stage.
It's a Wednesday night in Uptown, and eager listeners have braved the cold night to hear Minnesota's foremost expert on cannabis impart his knowledge.
A Harvard-educated professor, Weiblen runs one of only two labs in the United States licensed by the DEA to grow cannabis. For more than 10 years, he's been researching the plant's genome in the hope of one day producing a strain of hemp void of THC.
Weiblen's work on the University of Minnesota campus could one day revive the industrial production of hemp, which was once a vital crop for southern Minnesota farmers.
"This is one of the earliest known cultivated plants, with an archeological record that now dates from prehistory," Weiblen says.
In the beginning, the plant was prized and even protected by the state's political establishment — men who built a system of government while standing on hemp carpet.
Both branches of the Legislature were in session in 1881 when a fire broke out in the hallway of the first Capitol building and enveloped the dome. As lawmakers made their escape, the hemp carpet burned and the chambers filled, in the words of one reporter, with "a cloud of black, sickening, and forbidding smoke."
By the turn of the century, however, the opinions of the state's legislators had begun to change. A state law passed in 1901 — one of the earliest laws of its kind in the entire United States — banned the fermentation of marijuana for drink.
By the 1930s, as reefer madness swept the nation, racism became a motif for the anti-marijuana crowd. America's first drug czar, Harry Anslinger, warned Congress about "colored students at the University of Minnesota partying with female students smoking and getting their sympathy with stories of racial persecution. Result: pregnancy."
He said if the cops don't won't it then he won't. Vote it in wtf really who is running this state want to be cops or him. Face it we have no say till we vote n a real man who is for what the ppl want. Look it up the ppl want it. Just the duck lickers with no in site how gd it b for the economy can't c that or r they being payed off to not c it... bitch ppl till we r heard
What about what we want Gov. Crawls out of the 20s dick head cigs and drinking r the killers wake up OLD MAN. WE NEED JOBS HERE THE TAXES STEP DOWN IF U DONT GIVE A SHIT ABOUT MN.
Why should someone else tell me what I can or can't do as long as I'm not affecting any one else negatively?
I was given Marinol during my 5 weeks of radiation treatments. It did nothing for my appetite. I'm 6'2 and normally weigh 190, but I dropped down to 165. I would be very happy to see this Bill pass. I would love to see the plpe against this Bill visit the cancer ward. Talk to some of the patients. I guarantee you'll leave with tears in your eyes and a new outlook on medical marijuana and the benefits. Ten years later and I'm now down to only taking 8 pills to help me sleep....every-single-night. Two puffs of this and I sleep for 8 hours. What makes more sense?
Sure would be nice to at least some of the damage inflicted by scumbag Reagan undone. That tottering old fool set legalization back decades. http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=FYWS7udm0yg
I am very hopeful that this bill passes, but I don't have faith or trust that Mark Dayton will listen to THE PEOPLE that he so often claims to represent. Like so many career politicians, I fear he will side with the porcine law enforcement union that is quite clearly NOT COMPROMISING WHATSOEVER while Governor Dayton asks the parties "to seek compromise." Governor Dayton IS NOT A LEADER, he never has been and he never will be. A real leader would be clearly on the side of history. And no, I am not a Republican or a conservative, I am an independent who wants real reform in this area, and I want it soon, so please keep your partisan bashing to yourself.
Tylenol kills the liver. IB Profin kills the kidney. Mark Dayton will side with the public unions he fornicates with. If we don't go after potheads, we won't need as many public union employees to prosecute, judge, incarcerate, masterbate, and control the flock of pot smomers into a concentration camp. You know once medical weed hits, legal weed will hit. We need to keep the government large and full of "unemployable in the private sector" overpaid idiots.
"America's first drug czar, Harry Anslinger, warned Congress about "colored students at the University of Minnesota partying with female students smoking and getting their sympathy with stories of racial persecution. Result: pregnancy."" This is sadly one of the main reasons it was made illegal, along with the fact the BigPharma stands to lose a lot of money.
Oh what's the hurry... so what if a clear majority think it should be legal? It's just people's lives were ruining in the meantime right?
Shitbag Dayton will just veto it like the fireworks bill that passed. Cheers to cheap flights to and from Colorado!
It should be soon. There is no (sensible) reason to continue the War on (Some) Drugs, MJ in particular.
After Mark Dayton and his law enforcement and labor union lobbyists aren't in control of MN medical policies.
@BrettBalsam Thanks! Haha.
Adding Medical to it, does not matter. I know it can help people and do not have any argument against that. I lived in CA and anyone who wanted a medical marijuana card could get one and it does not matter if there is a real need or not. I lived in CA before it was past and after. There are doctors that created practices just to give out cards. They will even direct you on what to say to them, such "you have anxiety and can't sleep, right." The stores that sell marijuana are just store fronts like any other brick & mortar location that can be opened anywhere a business is allowed by any random person (not doctors). In CA, after years they started to set up zoning requirements after there were issues. There are real issues around it that need to be discussed without the pro & con rhetoric. I am allergic to it and in CA, I had a boss (owner of a company) trying to make me eat "brownies" and neighbors who sat on their balcony smoking and would blow into my windows. Here in MN, I currently have neighbors who smoke all the time (in a non-smoking building) and it comes through the walls / vents and they are healthy & in their 20's. They would get a card for medical use, no problem. They use it now and would use it if passed. I have horrible allergic reactions to it and it affects my ability to live comfortably. I have to use inhalers more often in order to breathe. It can be used by people who need it responsibly, but like anything else there will be people who can't handle it and abuse it. Don't know what the resolution is.
This might have a chance after Dayton, if we elect a more progressive governor. Let's hope. I don't understand how anyone can straight-facedly say that the police need to approve of this. Police are trained enforce the laws, not to make policy, and certainly not about healthcare.
Basic economics: Police have an incentive to preserve laws that allow them to keep hiring, keep high budget, etc. all without taking huge risk to their health. Harassing harmless pot users is awesome for them, why would they want to change it?
They might also like to get rid of the need for reasonable suspicion and other legal protections, will Dayton consult them on that too?
The war on drugs is sick, period! Some drug addicted kids get caught with meth pipe, facing 20 years in prison. A cross dressing guy stabs a guy to death , actual time served: 19 months. Get real, folks.
Using the cover of medicine to get marijuana decriminalized is kind of weak politics. All the cool states (Washington and Colorado) are just decriminalizing it/taxing it/regulating it, and are not going through the post prohibition theater of saying it is solely for medical purposes. We in Minnesota should have the honesty to follow suit, rather than insist on pretending it's only legal as medicine.
King James Version (KJV)
12 And they went out, and preached that men should repent.
13 And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.
1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.
We as a society are going to be held up as laughing stock over this issue by future generations and to be held in ridicule and justly so. To take away our God given constitutional rights held so dearly by our forefathers over such a useful and miraculous plant is so idiotic as to boggle the mind. Thomas Jefferson George Washington and Abe Lincoln all used and wrote about marijuana. Our Constitution and Bill of Rights were all written upon hemp paper. All clothing was made from hemp historically. And Jesus Christ Himself used the Anointing oil which biblical scholars agree that the main ingredient was cannabis. 50,000 known uses , complete food with the perfect balance of omega 3's and omega 6's pain reliever cancer weapon on and on.
@mansi_choksi Woop! Woop!
Thank you so much for writing about this issue. I am humbled to be a part of the discussion in Minnesota where Marijuana is an effective choice for many of the sick and dying people here.. It is disheartening to have Law Enforcement here in Minnesota be so unreasonable to the issue of Medical Marijuana. They certainly could be a proactive asset to the discussion and it's obvious people like me (the Caregivers) certainly don't become chronic drug dealers when we are faced with helping our loved ones. It certainly was one of the most difficult decisions I had to make. My heart breaks for every one of the families whose children could be helped by using this plant for medical purposes and for those whose illnesses could be helped by the healing affects of this plant. For my daughter, It was simply a miracle after two years of pain and suffering to find something that eased the pain, and helped her to eat. When you experience it first hand, It is an unbelievable motivator to tell others about. Hopefully, that is what I have done. For my daughter, for all the others, I tell her story.
I would like to believe that my Legislators have compassion for their constituents Making it a political issue disgusts me, but since law enforcement is already resigned to the fact that now or later, medical marijuana legislation will be passed, I wonder why the Governor would even for a moment risk his political career vetoing something that most Minnesotans agree should have been passed years ago.
When will medical Marijuana be legal in MN? Apparently soon -- Dayton just has to make sure it's cool with the police unions, private prison industry, pharmaceutical companies, and so on. So yeah, once they're cool with it, we're golden! (nice "progressive" state you got here)
I'm a moron, but in High School (late 90s) i said once my generation gets into their 30s, we'll start to get these arcane laws changed.
I think it's the only prediction i've ever made that's actually came true.
(i know, I know, Cool Story, Bro.)
What really blows my mind is that no one is talking about industrial hemp! There are no down sides to it and it could benefit society so much.
the greatest plant in the universe is almost free, LET FREEDOM RING!!!13
from 0 states to half the country, from low 20% approval to almost 70%, cali runs this planet by 2 decades,time to tie marijuana to the 2014, and 2016 elections
20 years behind us southern states and MINN, sad and scary....nobody denies freedoms like the south, nobody...even if marijuana reforms did pass the republiCANTS in charge would deny you all your freedoms, centuries of practice...no matter though, we never planned on getting your backwards brethren from day one, half the country already but not one southern state, lol...
love and freedom forever
MARIJUANA SUPER BOWL 2014, free state vs. free state, destiny
AMERICA'S WAR ON DRUGS IS A WAR ON AMERICANS!!!33
I met George Weiblen at the U of M; he was a guest lecturer for a class I had. They have cannabis samples that are over a hundred years old, its wild. He was quite vocal about his stance on cannabis prohibition, and I recall him commenting on the government's cannabis to be quite bad.
Flood gates are open now. just a matter of time before it is legalized in Minnesota, and any other state in the union for that matter... should be interesting..
Oh, please. Your use of the term "scumbag" shows your lack of intellect. Your failure to understand how societal beliefs have changed in the last 40 years should disqualify you from commenting on anything!
A bit backwards but on the right track! The reason it was made illegal was purely economical. The claims about inter-racial fornication are just a sample of what the fuckers used to sway public opinion into supporting their new policies that allowed them to corner the drug, fiber, and fuel markets - among others.
We can primarily thank the Rockefellers for getting us where we are today.
@summer2sunMy daughter is allergic to peanuts. Does that mean we should ban peanuts? What if she wants to go to a baseball game and someone is eating peanuts in the next chair?
Can you imagine if we just banned everything that caused allergies?
My daughter will have a harder time staying away from people eating peanuts than you will running into pot smokers.
But thanks for making a point that has absolutely nothing to do with this article.
@KoWT That's because they already legalized it as medicine 15 years ago. And it is not dishonest that it is medicine. But by all means, let's legalize it all the way please.
@greenthinksBut don't you get it??? IT'S A GATEWAY DRUG ADDICTIVE GANG DEALERS TAXED TOO HIGH THINK OF MY CHILDREN!!!!!!
@Garyprohibition has no greater ally than a recovered addict. Pathetic that Dayton cannot see beyond his personal weaknesses to the greater reality.
Opposition to industrial help comes from law enforcement agencies who would not be able to differentiate weed grown for fiber from weed grown for pleasure. Many law enforcement agencies would prefer that all weed be made legal.
He says a lot of things @carlsewall and now there's pressure from every which way
@tjkeim1@summer2sunAt what point did I say anything about banning it because I am allergic. In fact, I said I was being affected by it now and it is not legal. I never said if I was for or against it. You have no idea if it came to a vote if I would support it or not. From zoning, how people are evaluated to get a card and affecting others are all part of the big picture that does need to be considered and discussed. By the way, most schools do ban peanuts and peanut products. There are stadiums that no longer sell peanuts and airlines that don't provide peanuts due to people with allergies. I am not going to continue to engage as you just want to argue and will clearly argue about anything. That is not the point to any of this and you don't seem interested in an open discussion. Being emotional and no matter the side you are on to deny the pros and cons is naive & not effective. That will certainly not get anything passed or change anyone's mind. There are all kinds of laws and rights that are restricted to "protect" others. Can anyone smoke cigarettes - no. Can cigarettes be smoked anyone and everywhere - no. In order to get it passed you need to consider every argument rationally.
@exgeronimo I don't doubt the possibility of its medicinal value. But I should no more have to claim whatever banal ailment is effective towards securing a prescription for marijuana anymore than I should have to do the same to enjoy a vodka martini at the local tavern.