The Minnesota Medical Board has endorsed decriminalization of illicit drugs, low quantity possession expungements and promotion of harm-reduction projects. Approved this month, the recommendation is to remove criminal sanctions for possessing a negligible amount of illicit drugs or drug paraphernalia for personal use.
The board also asked for an administrative panel to be created to provide treatment advice and lawful penalties to petty offenders who are found in possession of drugs. This dual approach ensures the policy reduces harm, similar to the one at play in Portugal.
The board said it is urgent to increase investment for harm reduction and installation of programs for the treatment of patients with opioid disorders. The board also noted that freeing inmates currently imprisoned over low amount possession and expungement of a criminal record on an inmate were also important.
A private draft of the complete proposal states that the medical board didn’t accept penalties of a criminal nature for small quantity possession for personal use, but the board did note that civil punishments are acceptable if they trigger a benefit to the health of the population. There is negligible data to corroborate the usefulness of criminal punishment for substance abuse. It would seem that the penalty yields the opposite effect, bringing harm to the populace through convictions, incarcerations, arrests and criminal records among others.
This is the first time a medical board endorsed a policy for drug reform denoting a vibrant reflection of the wave of public opinion away from models of criminalization of substance use. This proposal might entice conversations of drug policy among lawmakers as they prepare for the 2023 session. The medical board is willing to educate policy makers on health harms arising from imposing harsh penalties for minor possession of drugs and how inefficient the criminal penalty is for such infractions.
This endorsement has been in the works for months, with the policy council within the medical board creating an “illicit drug harm reduction and decriminalization” work group, in which members surveyed weighty matters and were handed a comprehensive preview showing drug usage and trends of policies. Nationally, Americans support the decriminalization of drugs and support the operation of centers for overdose prevention where users can consume illicit drugs in a controlled, medically approved setting.
The state’s medical board has yet to approve the cannabis legalization proposal, though it is a priority to Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, who looks forward to its speedy passage next year given now that Democrats have majorities in the legislature.
As policies around marijuana ease in different jurisdictions, opportunities will eventually arise for adults to grow their own cannabis indoors using innovative equipment such as that manufactured by Advanced Container Technologies Inc. (OTC: ACTX) and other such entities.
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