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You Have Two Weeks Left to Smoke Weed at the Airport*

Plus more cruelty from the railroad industry, drinking beer on an ice floe, and a shoutout to Southwest Voice's Twitter in today's Flyover.

5:01 PM CST on December 19, 2023

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

Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em?

This Star Tribune headline says you can’t smoke pot at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, but here at Racket we prefer to look at the new THC rules with a little bit of glass-half-full optimism: Technically, you still can smoke weed at MSP… through the end of 2023. Yesterday, the Metropolitan Airports Commission moved to ban cannabis smoking and/or vaping—even in designated smoking areas—starting January 1. 

Of course, if you do decide to get high and fly during this 13-day window, it’s still very much a risk. Since cannabis isn’t legal on a federal level, TSA has warned that it doesn’t want you traveling with THC products in your bags no matter the rules in the state you're heading to/from, and the agency still can report anything they find to the police. However, it sounds like MAC is cool with you getting stoned via gummies or baked goods should you manage to make it past the Gates of Hell (aka security check). "Other methods of consumption are not prohibited at this time," said MAC attorney Kyle Fisher at a meeting earlier this month. Valium fliers and well-behaved drunks remain welcome.

How Railroads Avoid Paying Workers’ Comp When Employees Are Injured 

We all know that railroad work can be very, very dangerous; earlier this year, we spoke with whistleblowers who are concerned with safety standards in the industry. But, according to this thorough, blood-boiling piece by Jessica Lussenhop and Topher Sanders at ProPublica, not only are railroads lax on safety policies, the people in charge also go to great lengths to avoid paying workers’ comp to those who are hurt on the job. For example, while it’s standard policy to expect employees to jump onto moving trains, when Kansas City Southern Railway employee Chris Cole lost both legs doing so he was found to be at fault and was denied a payout. 

There’s also this horrible local incident from 2014: 

After two BNSF workers in Minneapolis breathed in a cloud of highly toxic chemicals that may have vented from passing rail cars, managers claimed that the men were exposed to a far less dangerous substance. One of the workers, Scott Kowalewski, suffered severe, permanent neurological damage. The other later died by suicide, a tragedy that was impossible to incontrovertibly link to the accident.

While the railroad tried to claim that the gas exposure had nothing to do with his declining health, Kowalewski had his day in court; a jury awarded him $15.3 million, while a judge ordered the railroad a $5.8 million penalty for misrepresentation and misconduct regarding the case. 

This Beltrami Ice Floe Survivor Sounds Chill AF 

This weekend, around 35 ice fishers found themselves trapped on an ice floe, adrift on Upper Red Lake in Beltrami County with no way back to land. They could have panicked, fallen in the water trying to get to safety, or frozen to death, but instead they decided to just... chill. "There’s not a whole lot you can do, you just say, ‘Oh well,’” Dale Mord, who was at the lake with his buddies, tells FOX 9. "We were still fishing. We were having a ball… everybody was just kind of like, ‘Alright, who’s got the beer?’"

While the popular fishing destination had been deemed frozen enough for people to be on it, it’s believed that intense winds, rain, and abrupt temperature fluctuations allowed the chunk to loosen, sending people on a very slow-moving ride. Thankfully, emergency responders were able to evacuate folks via an airboat after only a few hours of drinking and fishing.

Southwest Voices’ Twitter is On Fire

Do you follow @SWVoicesMPLS on Twitter? It’s been scoop city over there these past few weeks. Last Friday, SWV had the details on what will be going into the long-empty space at 36th and Bryant: Flipside, a music and cannabis shop (right across the street from Bogart's Donuts—brilliant move). They were also first with the news this week that the former Vo’s space on Lyndale and 35th is soon to be Brothers Eatery, an all-day breakfast spot. Good news and great reporting, folks.

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