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Sen. Branden Petersen Helps Draw Attention to Minnesota's Contradictory Cannabis Laws

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Next month, activist Kurtis Hanna will speak to the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy about removing cannabis from its list of Schedule 1 narcotics.

His argument is simple: State law says cannabis has "no currently accepted medical use in the United States," but that's not true. Not only did Minnesota just approve a medical cannabis program, but more than half the United States now allows cannabis or some kind of CBD-rich oil for treatment.

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We blogged about this in October, but since then Hanna has gotten a boost of support from one legislator. Last week, state Sen. Branden Petersen (R-Andover) penned a short letter to the board, urging the state's pharmacological regulators to take Hanna seriously and offering his help in any way.

"Kurtis has made an argument that can't be denied," Petersen tells us. "You shouldn't blatantly have laws that contradict one another, because that undermines the integrity of the law itself."

Hanna has twice petitioned the board in the past, but both times board members rejected his argument -- not with scientific evidence, but by claiming they didn't want to upset the dragons in Washington. Then the board turned around and petitioned the state legislature to remove its own powers of drug classification. The change occurred within a popular synthetic drug bill authored by Hazelden flack/state Rep. Bob Barrett (R-Lindstrom).

The power of reclassifying cannabis now rests in the hands of the state's politicians. In filing his third petition, Hanna is asking that the board make a recommendation to the legislature ahead of the 2015 session.

Assuming Hanna and Petersen win that victory, they'll have to contend with the rest of the Minnesota House and Senate. No one has come forward yet with a recreational cannabis bill and no one probably will. So the real push next year will be in expanding the current medical cannabis program to include thousands more patients who suffer from ailments deemed not worthy the last time around for political reasons.

For an impressive and ongoing list of where the pols stand on expanding our state's medical cannabis program, check out Sally Jo Sorensen of Bluestem Prairie's blog. She compared articles, voter guides, and candidate forums, but is asking for any additional information that citizens might have.

-- Send story tips to the author or follow him on Twitter @marxjesse