Many people in Minneapolis and St. Paul may be wondering what changes a new medical marijuana bill could have on the criminal justice system if it becomes law next year, including how drug offenses will be prosecuted. With many states passing medical marijuana laws of their own, there may be concerns about being wrongfully charged with or convicted of drug crimes.
What would happen, for example, if the law was not explicitly clear about who could grow and manufacture medical marijuana? What if there was room for interpretation on who was able to sell marijuana to individuals with a prescription? What if it was unclear what, if anything, someone with a prescription for medical marijuana needed to have on his or her person when using their medicine?
All of these things could lead to arrests, criminal charges and convictions in Minnesota for a variety of drug crimes. Someone who believes he or she is complying with the law could be convicted of, for example, manufacturing marijuana because he or she failed to comply with one of the facets of the medical marijuana law.
Right now, it is not entirely clear if the bill will pass. Though the legislators introduced legislation earlier this month, they will not actually discuss or vote on the bill until next year. Until that time, the drug laws in Minnesota will not change. While the legislators tout the bill as the most conservative medical marijuana bill in the country, there could still be considerable room for interpretation, opening the floodgates for wrongful or mistaken marijuana charges.
Source: Minnesota Public Radio, “Medical marijuana bill introduced for debate next year,” Tim Pugmire, May 2, 2013