While we applaud the Minnesota Department of Health for rejecting several proposed uses for medical marijuana, we also question the department’s decision to add Alzheimer’s disease to the list of conditions approved for such treatment.

A Star Tribune story (“Rx for Alzheimer’s: Pot,” Dec. 4) notes that the Health Department declined to approve six conditions, including opioid use disorder, which we argued against in public comments. The evidence just doesn’t exist to support the use of marijuana to treat opioid use disorder; in fact, the evidence points to significant risks for some patients. Leaving that condition off the medical marijuana list was a good decision.

Approving Alzheimer’s, on the other hand, seems premature, and not without risk.

For readers wondering how an intoxicant like marijuana could help with memory, they’re not alone. Even the national Alzheimer’s Association is opposed to the idea. Why? Because the data supporting it is not robust.

Some of the research is promising, to be sure. But the eagerness to approve medical marijuana on hopeful signs, rather than after rigorous scientific scrutiny and approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, reflects a disregard for the risks associated with marijuana use. Those risks are a bit lower in Minnesota, thanks to the state limiting medical marijuana to non-smokable forms (e.g., pills and liquids), but they are risks nonetheless, and well-documented risks — including the risk of memory loss.

Even if the train has left the station on marijuana, we ought to slow it down and step up research and regulatory efforts nationally before getting further down the tracks.

Marvin D. Seppala, M.D., Center City, Minn.

The writer is the chief medical officer of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation in Center City, Minn.



In handling aftermath of fraud, CHS executive shows leadership

CHS Inc. had a problem. One of its employees misstated rail freight contracts. There was fraud and it affected the company’s profits (“ ‘No excuse,’ CEO says as CHS lowers profit,” Dec. 4). Yet Chief Executive Jay Debertin doesn’t blame or rail against anyone. He actually takes ownership of the problem: “We had a lack of controls … and there’s no excuse for that, and we own that and I own that. … I’m not going to look for some clever way of downplaying it and making it look better than it was.”

That is how a leader acts. Don’t blame, point fingers, call someone names or make excuses. He has ethics and values and obviously practices them. Thanks, Mr. Debertin, for being a good example of how people in control, and we, should act.

Chris Larson, Eagan

climate change

Teacher finds reason to hope in Xcel Energy’s carbon plan

“Great news on the climate change front, Mr. Collins? I don’t think I have ever heard you say that before.”

I am lucky enough to work as a middle-school life science teacher, and every day I try to find ways for 12-year-olds to see and experience the beauty and interconnectedness of all living things. However, teaching ecology to seventh-graders can be tough, as the environmental stories are almost always of bad news and leave children concerned about their future and the planet’s future. The constant negative news makes many people lose hope or just ignore any new information about the demise of nature.

That cycle of news negativity changed! Xcel Energy recently announced it will provide 100 percent carbon-free energy by 2050 and also pledged to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent over 2005 levels by 2030. This is the best environmental news we have heard in a long time. It delivers a ray of hope to young people as they can see that there are leaders like Ben Fowke and corporations like Xcel Energy that believe in science and accept their responsibility to be good stewards of our one and only Earth! Thank you, Xcel; now let’s hope others follow your lead!

Patrick Collins, Lindstrom, Minn.

TCF Bank Stadium

Gopher football fan looking for change before buying his seat

It’s great that our little boat rowers won a meaningful game this year (Wisconsin) and are going to a meaningless bowl game in Detroit. However, I am going to hold off buying my season tickets for next year. If the University of Minnesota wants to get people into the stands (“U attendance drop among nation’s steepest,” Nov. 23), I have three suggestions:

1) Ticket prices — lowering the prices may encourage more people to attend. There is too much competition for my sports/entertainment dollar. Many provide more bang for my buck. Also, I feel taken advantage of with increased ticket prices for more desirable games.

2) Television — maybe more interest could be created in our hometown team if we could follow them on local TV stations. I understand that there is more revenue with FS1 and the Big Ten Network, but I can’t justify the cost of the cable programs to watch the Gophers at this point in their rebuilding effort.

3) Tone down the hollow hype — win more than one meaningful game, take the program to the next level, then bring on the slogans.

Bruce Lemke, Orono

Mueller investigation

Despite cooperating in probe, Flynn should face consequences

Special counsel Robert Mueller has recommended that former National Security Advisor Michael T. Flynn not be given an incarceration sentence (“Mueller: Flynn gave ‘substantial’ help,” Dec. 5). However, in a court document I find the following: “Given the defendant’s substantial assistance and other considerations set forth below, a sentence at the low end of the guideline range — including a sentence that does not impose a term of incarceration — is appropriate and warranted.” Given the nature of his guilty plea, and notwithstanding his cooperation, it seems to me that he should suffer the consequences of his actions.

Judy A. Gelina, Bloomington

State Capitol

Sorry, governor, approved laws mean more than legislators’ attire

I will happily support former Gov. Arne Carlson’s suggestion in a Nov. 30 letter to the editor that legislators dress “appropriately” as soon as he shows some evidence that wearing suit jackets and neckties (pearl necklaces for the women) actually helps our lawmakers formulate and pass better legislation. The true “high standard” shown in that photo with the article “Crash course for freshmen” (Nov. 29) was that new lawmakers came in early and eagerly to learn about their new responsibilities.

Martha Rosen, Minneapolis


A well-aimed delivery deserves extra reward in holiday season

Great article on tipping etiquette for the holiday season, (“Here’s the etiquette on how — and who — you should tip,” Dec. 4). However, how could you not list your faithful newspaper delivery carriers? I so appreciate the timeliness and faithfulness of my delivery carriers — rain, shine, freezing cold or slippery roads — my paper is faithfully delivered.

Marie Holm, Bloomington