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Advocating for compassionate access to cannabis and rational state and federal policies is often very frustrating. Even when activist secure a big win, there are usually substantial drawbacks and compromises involved. In some states, patients who need access to medical cannabis may find themselves unable to legally grow the medicine they would prefer to use to treat their conditions. Other times, the licensing infrastructure for a state is so skewed that it disenfranchised has the same populations most impacted by the War on Drugs.
In fact, cannabis legalization has become so popular an issue that it is hard to tell the difference between sincere reform efforts and pandering to a popular topic. However, Minnesota recently changed the policy that really impacts people’s lives, and it did so in the most unexpected manner.
On April 1st, the Minnesota Department of Corrections officially changed its policy on medical cannabis, but it wasn’t an April Fool’s Day prank. Instead, the state has decided to allow anyone on legal release from prison that is still under state monitoring to have the legal right to use medical cannabis.
If the change sounds altruistic, it wasn’t. It was the result of a lawsuit brought by a former inmate, Darrell Schmidt, who wanted to use cannabis to treat several conditions, including post traumatic stress disorder and insomnia. Because of the state ordered random drug testing, he couldn’t use a medication recommended by his doctor to control his symptoms, so he brought a lawsuit against the Minnesota Department of Corrections alleging discrimination.
Whether out of concern of losing the lawsuit or because it simply served as a wake-up call to how irrational the state’s cannabis policy was for parolees and others on prison release programs, the Minnesota DoC has changed its stance, much to the benefit of the people struggling to acclimate to the world outside of jail after their release. Hopefully this compassionate move will inspire other states to follow suit!
For previous Ladybud articles about Minnesota, click here.