Minnesota District Attorney James Backstrom is making an impressive early run at the 2009 Worst Prosecutor of the Year award. Backstrom, you may remember, is the prosecutor who sent threatening emails to his county medical examiner because she had the audacity to testify and let her staff testify for the defense in other jurisdictions (to my surprise, I see that last week he was publicly reprimanded for those emails).
Backstrom’s latest effort toward winning the award is this spectacularly awful op-ed arguing against a bill in Minnesota that would allow terminally ill patients to use medical marijuana to alleviate pain and suffering in their final days. The bill was so narrowly drawn, it even excluded from its list of acceptable users cancer patients who might use the drug to combat the nausea for chemotherapy.
That wasn’t enough for Backstrom, who argued that the bill still “sends a message to our children that [marijuana] is safe to use when it is clearly not.” The op-ed, which Backstrom wrote on behalf of several law enforcement agencies, employs all the usual drug warrior nonsense, including grossly overestimating the amount of usuable pot you can expect from a typical plant, repeated scare quotes around the word “medical,” and the circular reasoning that marijuana is dangerous and addictive because the government says it is.
The Minnesota Independent has a good refutation of Backstrom’s op-ed, though they appear to have misspelled his name.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed the bill this weekend, rather insultingly proclaiming his compassion and empathy for the sick in the process. Pawlenty cited law enforcement organization opposition to the bill as his primary reason for vetoing it.