Illegal marijuana shipment sparks controversy

At Minnesota Medical Solutions, two executives were caught trying to ship $500,000 worth of marijuana oil from Minnesota to New York in late 2015, rendering the legal medical marijuana an illegal substance upon crossing state lines.

The executives in question, Laura Bultman, chief medical officer, and Ronald Owens, chief security officer, were caught attempting to ship the oil to New York via armored car in anticipation of shortages at the start of the 2016 year. Last month, county prosecution officially charged the pair—who are no longer employed by the company—with felonies for planning and attempting to ship over five kilograms of weed.

Due to the already tenuous nature of the use of medical marijuana in the state, this recent incident has provided ammunition to senators currently opposed to this hot-button issue.

“This was a big risk for some of us. We wanted it done well, and we need everybody involved with this to hold themselves to the highest standard,” said Republican Sen. Michelle Benson to ABC news, who has flipped sides regarding marijuana manufacturer licensing. “The people responsible for executing it have put us in an incredibly difficult place.”

As part of the punishment for the attempted shipment, Republicans in the legislature are now pushing for the state to retain the right to revoke licenses to sell medical marijuana. A $1 million dollar fine has also been issued along with other penalties yet to be stipulated.

“We don’t think that kind of action is excusable and should be allowed to continue,” Republican Sen. Nick Zerwas told ABC.

While in Minnesota the use of medical marijuana is mostly in its experimental phase, its production has been on the rise. Last year the state designated 40 acres for the dedicated growing of weed for medicinal purposes, getting $250,000 in returns, and this year the Minnesota Department of Agriculture has pledged an additional 2,155 acres.

“It was the first year and we learned a lot,” said Commissioner Matthew Wohlman to the Echo Press. “A lot of work we had to do was to negotiate with the federal government for permits to secure the seed, licensing and approving the growers, and tracking the growers statewide.”

The future of such programs, however, has been thrown into flux due to how state officials have reacted to these most recent developments.

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