MNGOP Rep. Bob Barrett previews anti-medical pot arguments you'll hear lots of next year

Barrett wants medical marijuana supporters to think of the children.
Barrett wants medical marijuana supporters to think of the children.

A bipartisan medical marijuana bill introduced in the waning days of the most recent legislative session promises to be a hot topic of conversation at the Capitol next year.

SEE ALSO: Blacks in Minnesota 8 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than whites, study says

The bill has the maximum number of sponsors in each chamber, and recent polling shows about two-thirds of Minnesotans support "allowing doctors to prescribe small amounts of marijuana for patients suffering from serious illnesses." But it also has plenty of opponents, including Gov. Mark Dayton (that's what his on-the-record comments last fall indicated, at least) and Rep. Bob Barrett, R-Lindstrom.

Barrett, whose narrow election victory last November was controversial, talked about his marijuana views during the Chisago County Board of Commissioners meeting on August 7. Discussing medical marijuana specifically, he basically said he opposes it because smoking pot is bad for kids.

"I really worry about the health and safety of our youth. They're doing fewer hard drugs, drinking alcohol less, smoking cigarettes less, but they're doing two things more: smoking more marijuana and using more prescription drugs," Barrett said, according to an East Central Post Review report. "This is an issue that is deep in my heart... You can tell where I'm at with it."

Barrett did acknowledge that marijuana has medicinal uses, but he pointed out that pot "is the second most addictive drug in the country behind alcohol -- about 4.2 million people are addicted." (Bluestem Prairie digs into the factual basis for Barrett's claim about marijuana's addictiveness here.)

But medical marijuana supporters argue opponents like Barrett are focusing on the wrong things.

"The medical marijuana conversation really is centered around compassionate care and allowing for patients to be prescribed medication from their physician that will help them," Rep. Carly Melin, D-Hibbing and the bill's chief sponsor in the House, told MPR last month.

Consider yourself warned: You're sure to hear more arguing of this sort as the next legislative session -- and a possible vote on a Melin's medical marijuana bill -- approaches.

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at [email protected]

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