CFN Media Interviews Sensible MN


Rachelle Gordon

July 11th, 2017

Policy


The legal cannabis market in the Midwest is pretty far behind other parts of the United States. Only four states – Minnesota, North Dakota, Illinois, and Michigan have some sort of medical marijuana program. On June 2nd, 2017, dozens of legalization proponents gathered for the First Annual Sensible Minnesota Summit in the state’s capitol, Saint Paul.

Sensible MN, a cannabis advocacy group, presented the day-long summit, which featured guest speakers, workshops, and a consumer panel. The current medical marijuana laws in Minnesota are quite restrictive, with only a handful of qualifying conditions, two licensed producers, and a ban on flower (patients receive concentrates or capsules). The same goes for the other states; in Iowa, only the possession of CBD is legal, but didn’t pass legalization of in-state sales and production until this year. The same goes for Wisconsin.

“Minnesota, and the rest of the Midwest for that matter, needs help,” said Maren Schroeder, president of Sensible MN. “This is supposed to be a progressive state, and we have a lot of support for expanded medical and adult-use legalization here but we lack the resources to capitalize on that. There is a soon-to-be rich market for the cannabis industry, and we’re hopeful we can partner with companies and organizations throughout the state, and the country, to advance policy here for everyone’s benefit.”

Keynote Speaker

The Sensible Summit was filled with inspiration and educational speakers, but the highlight of the day was keynote speaker Dr. Raj Sethuraju. Dr. Sethuraju spoke of the connections between the so-called War on Drugs and racial and economic disparities in the US and around the world.

“I felt like Dr. Sethuraju’s speech was an important educational objective,” explained Schroeder. “The cannabis movement has power and momentum to lend to these related social justice movements, as the intersection lies in unjust and racist laws that came about well before our time.”

Workshops and Panels

There were several extremely useful workshops, covering topics from new developments in hemp production to how cannabis prohibition has affected the general population of Minnesota. The day concluded with a consumer panel, featuring different Minnesotans who have diverse cannabis stories. The panel included veterans, seniors, and a pediatric cannabis patient.

Trey Brown, a 17-year-old cannabis patient, developed Serotonin Syndrome after a traumatic brain injury at age 11. His family was forced to move to Colorado a few years later in order to legally treat him. Trey is now able to attend school, ride his bike, and enjoy his teenage years just like any other kid.

“You don’t hear about it – cannabis and brain injuries, especially in pediatrics,” explained Trey’s mom, Angela. “There needs to be more awareness of what cannabis can do for TBI (traumatic brain injury) – there needs to be more education.”

A New Organization for a Sensible Future

While the Minnesota Cannabis Summit, is a newer event, Sensible MN is already planning for next year.

“People need to know what’s going on,” said Brandon Borgos, Vice President of Sensible MN. “In the same way that we learned of the way cannabis was made illegal, and why it is in the state that it is right now. So, it’s up to us to educate people and to give them the resources to educate.”

Gunnar Aas, an intern at Sensible MN and the president of the Hamline University Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), is looking forward to spreading education to other people – specifically young activists looking for a more pragmatic approach to cannabis in the future.

“There’s a lot wrong with Minnesota’s medical access program, but hearing from the people involved in it directly was really an eye opening experience. I’m excited to make a legitimate, tangible difference in people’s lives.”

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Rachelle Gordon

About Rachelle Gordon

Rachelle Gordon is a Minneapolis-based writer. She was the president of her college's chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy and worked in Amsterdam for a brief time. Find her online at www.rachellegordon.net.


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