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Thank you, John Hagen ("In the end, there's no good reason to legalize," Opinion Exchange, April 28) for a clear, succinct commentary outlining the significant, negative risks for Minnesota and our citizens with legalizing marijuana. Given the studies available from states that have previously taken this step, I falsely assumed our leaders would look deeply at the data and decide legalizing marijuana was not in Minnesota's best interest, at least not at this time ("Legal pot grows certain," April 29).

But you don't have to dig deeply to uncover the truth about this push to legalize. The rush is for tax revenue. The Marijuana Policy Project reports that "Legalizing cannabis for adults has been a wise investment. ... Through the end of 2022, states have reported a combined total of more than $15 billion in tax revenue from legal, adult-use cannabis sales." But at what cost? Is the financial state of Minnesota such that we must find additional tax revenue no matter the cost? We do have significant needs in Minnesota, and we must wisely consider all available revenue streams (don't forget the current surplus!) and how to address these priorities. Hagen's commentary clearly calls out the wide-ranging risks that accompany legalizing marijuana; these negative impacts will bring an added financial burden to our state, along with diminished quality of life for our neighbors.

One example (among many!), in "Changes in Traffic Crash Rates after Legalization of Marijuana" (Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, July 2022): "[T]he combined effect of legalization and retail sales was a 5.8% increase in injury crash rates and a 4.1% increase in fatal crash rates." This was across all states with legalized marijuana sales. The data on highway safety, increased public health costs, and the negative impact on our families and neighborhoods is readily available (from the Minnesota Medical Association, our law enforcement professionals, mental health providers). Moving to legalize cannabis just because other states have chosen to take this path in pursuit of added tax revenue cannot be justified.

Susan Sisola, Minneapolis


In all of the Star Tribune's reporting on legal marijuana in Minnesota, one thing I read is that law enforcement officers are concerned that there's no field sobriety test for driving while high like there is with alcohol. I believe I have invented a low-budget solution. Every state patrol officer should be dispatched with a CD of the best of the Beatles and an extra large bag of Rold Gold pretzels. If your suspect starts grooving out just a little too hard to "Eleanor Rigby" and eyes that bag like it's full of actual gold, you might have more than enough reasonable suspicion to book them!

Nicholas Rea, Minneapolis


Update, don't overhaul

Rather than the proposed Summit Avenue regional bike trail, St. Paul should focus on proven and systemic low-cost safety enhancements to the existing bike lanes.

This project has repeatedly been presented as necessary to improve safety, despite no data provided by the city demonstrating Summit Avenue is more or less safe than a comparable St. Paul street.

As Minnesota works Toward Zero Deaths, understanding the incidence of bike and pedestrian injury within a larger traffic safety context is critical. From 2017-2021, 42,104 police-reported traffic crashes occurred in Ramsey County, and 111 people lost their lives. Pedestrians were 32% of these tragedies and bicyclists 3%.

Research on separated bike facilities from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Federal Highway Administration suggests the proposed trail design would actually be less safe than what currently exists and could lead to even more intersection-related conflicts, which are typically the most injurious.

In the project's 90% plan, the city expressly ignores the expertise of its consultant Bolton & Menk, a highly respected transportation engineering firm. The city has not yet explained why it completely disregards the paid consultant's primary engineering recommendation:

"It is recommended that additions to Summit Avenue should be as simple as possible and not change the existing curb lines whether it is within the 100-foot-wide or 200-foot-wide section of the avenue."

That means no separated bike trail. St. Paul residents must contact their elected representatives and challenge why this $12 million project continues to move forward despite common sense, research and professional engineering recommendations to the contrary.

Karen Sprattler, St. Paul

The writer is a transportation safety consultant.


I think Public Works and the Minneapolis City Council need to invest heavily in common sense instead of bike politics.

History will not treat either kindly for their part in destroying neighborhood identity by making Uptown and Bryant Avenue business-district roadkill.

The bicycle coalition is the Minneapolis equivalent of MAGA: a noisy minority that has somehow managed to spook the bejeebers out of local politicians and department heads. That noise does not equate to the needs of infrastructure to move goods and people about, as you should no doubt be aware by witnessing the fiascos of Hennepin Avenue south of Lake Street and Bryant Avenue South.

I go through Uptown 10 times a week on my way to and from work. I see empty bike racks, empty bike lanes and empty storefronts. Who is being served?

After witnessing the Hennepin Avenue restructuring, it is no surprise that any business north of Lake Street is bailing or restructuring their lease so they can move somewhere else.

The new Minneapolis motto should be: "There goes the neighborhood."

Tim Kleinpaste, Minneapolis


Lose the stereotype

I applaud the editorial reprinted from the Mankato Free Press advocating for more immigrants to supplement our Minnesota workforce ("Worker shortage cure: immigration," May 1). But it missed the opportunity to include one detail: Many immigrants seeking a new life are professionals, including doctors and educators, two professions sorely needed in outstate Minnesota. It's time to lose the stereotype and change the narrative.

Nancy Hassett, Big Lake, Minn.


Only now

I have three photo albums full of people enjoying their lives. They lived, clasped arms, stood next to each other breathing in and out, posing for the camera.

And now, they are gone. I don't know even their names. What am I to do with them? Briefly, I consider myself as one of them. I would not want to be shredded, destroyed, dumped into a garbage bag. Or, would I think that my time is over, and what does it matter?

Spring is showing her face. She is tiny buds, green weeds sprinkling the forest floor. Maybe one message of spring is to live now because most of us will be forgotten — our joy, our memorable moments will last a generation or two, maybe three. Each generation takes us, in person or as memories and reduces us.

We are cycling again through the seasons. I ask, half despairing, what remains? Maybe, like rock, we are in layers of time. Each layer enriched by the love contained in it and above and below it.

Maybe our legacy isn't permanence but our blooms. Our love given, our faces in joy. We are caught in a camera, remembered, and then forgotten. What remains is our now.

Margot Storti-Marron, Maple Grove