Dateline Minnesota Logo


Dateline Minnesota

News from around the state

Restoration efforts fail as rural Minn. church is burned to ground

A 20-year fight to save a shuttered Catholic church on the northern Minnesota prairie came to a fiery end last month when the Diocese of Crookston ordered its former St. Anthony of Padua Church burned to the ground.

The empty church was formally closed in 2000 as the number of Catholics in Red Lake County fell from 3,288 in 1952 to 1,800 in 2010. The bishop in Crookston told parishioners there to attend church in one of two nearby towns. 

A handful of people with deep family ties to Terrebonne hoped to save the building. Dan Derosier and his family raised funds for the building's preservation, using $36,600 in donations to twice paint the church and fix a bathtub-size hole in the roof when an F2 tornado hit it and toppled the chimney.

Derosier and others who hoped to save the church looked to other examples around Minnesota of groups that restored and saved churches that had lost their original use. Some of the best-known examples, like St. Rose of Lima in Kenyon or St. Bridget's in Greaney, are still standing thanks to volunteers and donated funds.

A growing list of problems at the former St. Anthony of Padua -- including a sloping floor, mold and leaning walls -- doomed the building in the eyes of the Crookston Diocese, however, which told Derosier to stop fundraising and make way for the building's destruction. More parisioners voted to tear down the building than to save it, the Rev. Bill DeCrans told the Star Tribune last year. A flurry of last-minute appeals kept the building standing until last month. 

Terrebonne, once a thriving farm community that supported a flour mill and cheese factory, long ago dwindled to just a couple of homes. A cemetery behind the church will remain. A call to the diocese late on Friday was not immediately returned.

Photo: The former St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Terrebonne, Minn., was burned to the ground in the last week of April. 

Minnesota medical marijuana company battles Google

Photo provided by Minnestoa Medical SolutionsPhoto: Minnesota Medical Solutions

A Minnesota-based medical marijuana company says Google is blocking its attempts to advertise online.

Vireo, the parent company of Minnesota Medical Solutions, tried to take out a series of online ads in New York, where it operates four clinics and is one of a handful of companies chosen by the state to grow and manufacture medical cannabis. Each time, Google rejected the ads, citing its policy against promoting "dangerous products or services."

On Monday, the company expanded its online advertising efforts to include the two Minnesota clinics operated by Minnesota Medical solutions. Enrollment in Minnesota's medical cannabis program remains relatively low -- 1,133 patients have joined the program since last summer -- but Vireo announced that it would also attempt to place "Minnesota-targeted Google ads to make it easier for Minnesota patients to learn about using our medicines."

Google has not yet responded to calls and email inquiries, but the company draws a line between acceptable and unacceptable online advertisements: "We want to help keep people safe both online and offline, so we don't allow the promotion of some products or services that cause damage, harm, or injury," the guidelines begin. The list of products Google will not advertise runs from explosives to tobacco to "recreational drugs and drug-related equipment."

Dr. Kyle Kingsley, founder and CEO of MinnMed and Vireo, argues that medical marijuana is a pharmaceutical, and should be advertised online just like other treatments for epilepsy, cancer or glaucoma. Almost half of all states have legalized cannabis for medical use, but the federal government still classifies it as an illegal, dangerous drug with no recognized medical value, and Google's ad policies appear to follow suit.

“As a physician, it’s hard to understand why Google willingly accepts ads that promote highly addictive painkillers, like OxyContin, that are responsible for thousands of deaths each year, but knowingly rejects medical cannabis ads that could, in many cases, be a significantly safer therapeutic option for patients,” Kingsley said in a statement.

He added: “I think it is going to be challenging for Google to explain why it is comfortable accepting advertisements from companies that promote the sale of alcohol, knives, hatchets and infidelity, but is uncomfortable accepting ads from medical cannabis companies. We don’t live in a black and white world, and Google ought to adopt more thoughtful and nuanced advertising policies."

While 23 states have legalized medical marijuana, and four states have legalized its recreational use, the federal ban has made it difficult for cannabis companies to operate like regular businesses. Banks and credit card companies are reluctant to do business with companies that sell a banned federal substance. Cannabis companies also miss out on tax breaks and face constant scrutiny from state and federal law enforcement.

Minnesota's medical cannabis program is one of the most tightly regulated in the nation. The state strictly limits who can use medical marijuana, who can sell it, and in what form.

Only two companies -- MinnMed and LeafLine Labs -- can grow, refine and sell cannabis. The product can only be sold in pills and liquids. Smoking the raw plant form remains illegal.

Right now, the state has just three clinics, although the number will expand to eight by this summer. Only patients with a limited number of serious illnesses can register with the state to buy medical cannabis, although the program will expand in August to include patients suffering from intractable pain -- a move that could potentially bring in thousands of new customers.

Google has not yet responded to MinnMed's request to create Minnesota-targeted online advertisements.

For more information about the state's program, visit the Minnesota Office of Medical Cannabis.