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Greater Minnesota Has Its Own Gun Problem

Plus Covid ain't over yet, medical marijuana wants in, and a local restaurant gets national attention in today's Flyover.

Photo by steve woods on Unsplash

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily midday digest of what local media outlets and Twitter-ers are gabbing about.

The Gun Deaths We Don’t Hear About

Guns killed 570 Minnesotans last year, the highest rate of gun deaths in our state in 20 years. The rise in gun homicides, a serious concern, has been well-documented. What’s less discussed is the rise in gun suicides, especially in Greater Minnesota. There were more than twice as many suicides committed with guns last year (393) as there were homicides (164), Christopher Ingraham at the Minnesota Reformer reports, looking at statistics recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And while the homicide rate is greater in the Twin Cities metro, the suicide rate outside that area is shocking—more than 200 of those suicides were committed outstate. In other words, nine out of every 100,000 Minnesotans outside the Twin Cities metro took their lives with a gun last year.

This is hardly a purely Minnesotan problem. Even before COVID, researchers were tracing the nation’s decreasing life expectancy to a rise in “deaths of despair” among white working-age Americans without four-year degrees. (The category includes suicide, drug overdoses, and alcohol-related liver disease.) And considering that folks who think they have a future don’t typically go around shooting one another, it doesn’t seem like much of a stretch to call the homicides “deaths of despair” as well.

Hi, No, the Pandemic Is Not Over

While our student loan balances are happier with Joe Biden than they were previously, we gotta say the old fella is really not cut out to discuss public health without the aid of a very carefully phrased message on a teleprompter. “The pandemic is over,” the President announced on 60 Minutes last night. “Not so fast,” the sewage of the Twin Cities responds. Last Friday, Bring Me the News reports, the Metro Council released its latest wastewater sample data, an important measure of COVID-19 prevalence, and the viral load (lol, load) of COVID entering had risen by 36% since the prior week. A big contributor to that increase: Schools are back in session, and without masking policies this year. The omicron subvariant BA.5 remains dominant, but a tiny percentage of (another!) variant, BA.2.75, was located as well. While COVID death rates are down to the single digits here (with “only” 7 people dying a week), they were even lower last summer—and remember what happened once we all went back inside.

Lawsuit: THC Legalization Is Screwing with Medical Marijuana’s Profit Margins

In 2015, when Vireo Health landed one of two contracts to provide medical marijuana in Minnesota, it was a big cash boon. If you were one of the lucky few to have a “green” card, you’d probably be dropping a bundle at one of their Green Goods dispensaries. But now that we have accidental legal edibles, and pretty much every place in town can sell $8 Delta-9 packets, fewer people are milking the medical cash cow. And that, according to Vireo’s lawsuit against the state, is discrimination. “The problem is that hemp-derived edibles that have recently been legalized in Minnesota do not have the same regulation, oversight, testing, and customer eligibility limitations as the medical cannabis-derived edibles sold by Vireo,” the lawsuit states.

It doesn’t sound like they’re trying to harsh anyone’s mellow, however. The lawsuit alleges that THC-derived edibles and their medical cannabis-derived edibles are “chemically identical,” and so they shouldn’t be regulated differently from the “Birthday Cake Indica Stoned Zone” gummies you get at the gas station down the store. Vireo isn’t the only one losing money to unregulated gummies; some estimate that failing to tax edibles is costing Minnesota about $46 million this year.

Petite León Gets Some Big Recognition

The New York Times just released its list of the 50 best restaurants in America right now, and you better believe Petite León is on there. "The chef Jorge Guzmán was born and raised in the Yucatán, and that region’s cuisine animates a number of his arresting dishes, including al pastor pork collar, charred broccolini with mole verde, and ancho chile-black garlic marinated bavette steak with a bright piquillo pepper sauce," Brett Anderson writes of the south Minneapolis spot from Guzmán, Travis Serbus, and Benjamin Rients. Two Minneapolis restaurants landed on the list last year: Sooki & Mimi, from Ann Kim, who was just prominently featured on Chef's Table: Pizza, and Owamni, from Sean Sherman and Dana Thompson, the former of whom was just the subject of an extraordinarily long New Yorker profile. In other words... very fine company. "This team has been kicking ass since our doors opened for take out and they keep kicking ass!" the restaurant's celebratory Insta post reads, and we couldn't agree more. Get the burger! Get the mussels! Get the stuffed piquillo peppers!

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