The Catholic Spirit - MCC director: Legal, adult-use recreational marijuana a ‘travesty’

Adult-use, recreational marijuana became legal Aug. 1 in Minnesota, “a travesty that will harm this state’s quality of life,” said Jason Adkins, executive director and general counsel of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the public-policy arm of the state’s bishops.

It’s also an example of how Catholics need to be more engaged with the political process, Adkins said in an email exchange. “We need to be just as vocal and organized as marijuana advocates about our own set of political preferences so that legislators feel the need to address them,” he said. “Without the active presence of Catholics in public life, it will be harder for legislators to know and do the right thing.”

One of several laws that took effect Aug. 1, the legalization of recreational marijuana has received widespread attention and marks the beginning of a new industry and legal intoxicant in the state. The new law immediately allows people to possess up to 2 ounces of cannabis in public and 2 pounds in their homes. Minnesotans also can cultivate up to eight plants for personal use. Four of those plants can be flowering at any one time.

By early 2025, rules and regulations are expected to be in place allowing businesses to sell recreational cannabis to people 21 and older. One known exception to a later start for businesses is the Red Lake Nation Reservation, which as a sovereign entity opened a dispensary in Red Lake Aug. 1.

The use of marijuana for medical purposes has been legal in Minnesota since 2014. Allowing recreational use “puts profits and politics over people and will have a host of negative consequences, including the likelihood of an increase in traffic-related deaths,” Adkins said.

It’s also an example of how politicians increasingly view their role “as catering to vocal and organized groups of political consumers and satisfying their preferences instead of pursuing the common good,” he said. “Yes, legislators should be responsive to constituents and represent their views, but they should do so always in light of what promotes authentic human flourishing.”

As of Aug. 1, Minnesota joined 22 states, two U.S. territories and the District of Columbia that already have enacted measures to regulate cannabis for adult non-medical use, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures.

“It is understandable that, in a culture in which depression and despair are prevalent, people are excited about marijuana as an escape and a way to dull the pain,” Adkins said. “It underscores the importance of evangelization — to bring hope amid hopelessness and bring light to the darkness. If we really believe Jesus is savior, then the urgency of evangelization in word and deed never ceases.”


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