-- Correction at bottom --
The state's new 23-person medical cannabis task force has a public meeting coming up.
It's scheduled July 31 and intended mostly as a meet-and-greet for the task force members who will be tasked with evaluating the medical cannabis program. It'll be followed Aug. 8 by a meeting for folks interested in becoming certified manufacturers of cannabis.
An announcement by the Minnesota Department of Health says topics "will include a review of the legislation, a discussion of potential supporting rules, some early information about the manufacturer selection process...as well as an overall program timeline."
We haven't gotten confirmation yet on which four legislators will be joining the task force, but last week we took a little closer look at the makeup and found a wide cast of supporters and opponents.
A subsequent City Pages review of all the applications (via the secretary of state's office) confirms what cannabis advocates suspected: Most of Dayton's appointees are open to cannabis as medicine only in the strictest of scenarios.
For instance, Laura Schwartzwald, past president of the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy, writes in her application that the plant's ability to alleviate pain is "absolutely wonderful," but expresses concern that the plant is a gateway drug for non-patients. She adds,
I believe it's important to try to maintain a positive economic environment with the program that does not involve the creation of an atmosphere of the casual acceptance of illicit drug use in our state.What's more, nine of the folks who made it to the task force were asked to apply by Dayton's office. They include all four law enforcement representatives, plus five medical professionals: Vincent Hayden, Karina Forrest, Pamela Gonzalez, David Hartford and Dawn Wyllie.
For anyone interested in attending the upcoming meetings:
- Thursday, July 31, from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., in Room B144/5 of the Orville Freeman Building, 625 Robert Street North, St. Paul
- Friday, Aug. 8, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Skjegstad Room in the Minnesota Department of Revenue building, 600 Robert Street North, St. Paul
The state's health department is asking that people RSVP for the second meeting so they know whether a bigger room is required. Email Jeffrey Smith, an organizer, by Aug. 1.
Correction: The original post stated that the task force would meet twice in the next month. In fact, the second meeting, on Aug. 8, is intended for people interested in becoming certified manufacturers of cannabis.