Two weeks ago, the same group of mothers sang Governor Mark Dayton’s praises for having an open conversation about medicinal marijuana, as their sick children arguably could benefit from it. Dayton eventually decided to oppose an effort in the legislature to legalize medicinal use and sale of marijuana, but the Democrat offered a solution to the moms. According to their press conference yesterday, it was to find a local pusher.
Needless to say, the moms are no longer singing Dayton’s praises:
These parents had picketed outside the governor’s residence two weeks ago, and were unexpectedly invited inside. There, they told the governor their stories. They say they were shocked when the governor suggested they can buy pot illegally on the street, or in another state, to treat their children.
“That’s absurd,” said Jessica Hauser of Woodbury, whose her 2-year-old son has intractable epilepsy. “And to have the top official in Minnesota suggest that to my face when I am looking for compassion and a thoughtful solution. It’s just completely offensive.”
The marijuana controversy is bubbling just below the surface at the Capitol, where supporters say there are enough votes in the House and Senate to pass it. But frustrated lawmakers carrying the bill believe it faces a veto from Dayton.
The governor does not deny he told at least one of the parents to buy illegal pot off the street. However, he said in a statement Wednesday that he does not advocate breaking the law.
“But as a father, I understand parents who would do anything possible to help their children,” the statement said.
Golly, if only a father had a way to allow those moms to buy marijuana safely and legally! Like, say, if that father was a governor of a state in which his party controlled both chambers of a legislature sympathetic to legalization …
No matter how one falls on legalizing use of marijuana for any purpose, Dayton’s response is sheer nonsense. As a father, Dayton feels compassion, but as a governor Dayton apparently admits that marijuana might be useful and at the same time wants moms to risk jail and violence to get it. Er, what? Had Dayton told them that he was convinced marijuana had no medical value and that they shouldn’t give it to their children at all — a supportable position — then that would at least be defensible. Dayton wants it both ways, though, and in the process manages to get it wrong in every direction.
Contrast this with Chris Christie in New Jersey, who knows how to stay on message. Christie allowed for medicinal use in the state, but has drawn a firm line on further legalization:
During Gov. Chris Christie’s “Ask the Governor” program on New Jersey radio station WKXW-FM 101.5, he was asked by a caller whether the governor would consider legalizing marijuana to bring more tax revenue into the state.
“Mike, I love you, baby, but it ain’t happenin’, not while I’m governor,” Christie said to the caller.
Christie said that he understood the argument for more revenue, but said that it was wasn’t an “even exchange.”
“I don’t believe that legalizing an illegal drug for purposes of governmental profit is something that we should be doing. I believe that this is a gateway drug into other more serious drugs, I think it sends a wrong message to our kids and I don’t think it makes anybody a better or more productive person,” he said.
Will Dayton’s fumble provide an opening to legalization? It’s tough to say; legislators think they have the votes for a “strongly bipartisan” approval, but probably not enough to overcome a Dayton veto. If the state GOP were better organized, this episode would put a dent in Dayton’s 2014 re-election hopes, but it’s not so it won’t … unfortunately for those of us who live in Minnesota.