Gov. Mark Dayton, though pessimistic, breathes a little life into medical marijuana bill

Pat_McClellan.JPG
Patrick McClellan, holding a "get-well" card he handed Gov. Mark Dayton
Cops are out.

Gov. Mark Dayton has directed two members of his staff as well as the state public health commissioner to work with medical marijuana supporters in crafting a bill he could possibly sign into law within the next two months.

The news came on Thursday after patients and advocates descended on his mansion in St. Paul with strollers and signs that read, "Love Over Law Enforcement." They called on the governor to stop letting the spokesmen of public safety dictate the conversation and to offer new negotiating partners, now that the bill has been effectively stalled.

SEE ALSO: Rep. Carly Melin pauses medical pot push as law enforcement buzzkills bill

Earlier in the day, Dayton made it clear on a conference call that he's skeptical of the government's ability to properly distribute marijuana to patients, and that more research needs to be done on the plant's medicinal value.

Apparently joints rub him the wrong way -- though he's open to the idea of ingesting marijuana in liquid or vapor form. Any bill that permits smoking, he told reporters, "is not going to happen" this year. The Star Tribune quotes the governor as adding:
Nobody wants to be in a position of causing anybody undue suffering or standing in the way of anybody's suffering being relieved. But you're talking about making law and public policy for 5.3 million people. You have to weigh in the balance what the experts say are the gains for how many people and what they say are the likely losses for how many people.
Perhaps the most confusing thing he's uttered in this entire saga came next. He suggested that patients simply continue to buy marijuana on the street, explaining that the punishment for possessing less than an ounce and a half is a only petty misdemeanor.

When pressed, the governor backpedaled into this response: "I'm not advocating anybody do whatever it is they do. I'm just pointing out the reality in our society."

Several of the protesters who met with the governor later in the day described his initial attitude as "bewildered" and "angry." Dayton is recovering from hip surgery, and the supporters greeted him with a massive card that said, "We hope your position on the medical marijuana bill will get better soon!" It also entreated him to "Show some backbone!"

"That pissed him off," says Patrick McClellan, who suffers from Muscular Dystrophy. However, McClellan walked away from the two-hour conversation feeling that the governor had been "extremely gracious."

At a certain point, though, Dayton questioned whether supporters even had enough votes to get the bill to his desk, McClellan says: "He wants to see what our end results are."

Dayton released a statement through his press secretary saying he was "grateful for the opportunity this afternoon to spend time with these Minnesotans, and hear their stories. Following the meeting, the Governor said it was difficult to see that so many good Minnesotans are enduring such pain and suffering."

Still, one very important question remains unanswered: Why, in the first place, did the state's top cops and prosecutors have the power to veto legislation?

Several protesters mulled it over on the steps of the governor's mansion. They included T.J. Nelson, a Brainerd man who uses marijuana to ease the pain cause by Crohn's Disease.

"I must have missed that part in civics class," he says, "when the teacher taught us that police make the laws."

-- Follow Jesse Marx on Twitter @marxjesse or send tips to jmarx@citypages.com

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28 comments
Steve Woodward
Steve Woodward

dont blame all law enforcement. many cops are in favor of legalization

Gary
Gary

"...more research needs to be done on the plant's medicinal value"

Christ almighty, HOW MUCH MORE RESEARCH DO YOU POSSIBLY NEED, DAYTON?! What, the 20 states (and D.C.) where it's already legal -- not to mention Colorado and Washington (and other common sense/forward-thinking states that are on the verge of full legalization) -- just went into this decision blind or something? The literal centuries of its usage for pain relief and countless other health benefits and ZERO recorded overdoses still aren't enough? Honestly, screw Dayton and this BS stalling tactic -- I CAN'T WAIT to cast my vote against him this year.

Dennis Djthedj Jerome
Dennis Djthedj Jerome

How did this guy get elected governor? Seriously htf did that happen? Call flippin CO and WA and ask to borrow their studies as they ain't usin em anymore. Of course this is about cops and lawyers. Make it legal and allow personal growth. Then let's study the results. Wow, arrests for pot almost went to zero and we had to lay off 50% of law enforcement. That would be so horrible I can't imagine it. That's what they're afraid of.

Ray Minneapolis
Ray Minneapolis

Also, to address "..one very important question remains unanswered: Why, in the first place, did the state's top cops and prosecutors have the power to veto legislation? " (a new story idea for CityPages?) We would do well to remember, in the days when Mark Dayton was a senator, HE WAS A 9-11 TRUTHER! In speaking out, he was later threatened by powerful criminals. Perhaps this is why he is hesitant, fearful, or cautious about stepping on the toes of criminal organizations pretending to be Law Enforcement agencies? http://youtu.be/9U368DWXmb8

Ray Minneapolis
Ray Minneapolis

Excellent headline, "Cops are out'! Puts an inspiring spin on the fight, where as others had reported he said something like "Not this year".. Sound like he's actually directing the Drug-war Profiteers to stop their games.

Chris Welton
Chris Welton

The state receives $121 per possession ticket and $121 per paraphernalia ticket, plus the federal money for the "war on drugs." And Joel, It has nothing to do with lawyers, and you are an idiot for thinking that. The state would face losing almost $100million+ in funding between the Feds and money generated from the tickets(not to mention the money collected if found in a car).

Harvey Tjader
Harvey Tjader

Cops are part of the executive branch of the government. Dayton heads up the executive branch. He shouldn't be taking direction from them. It will just confuse them about the role.

Shayne O'Neil
Shayne O'Neil

The cops should have NO say in the legislation. It's in their monetary interest for it to stay illegal.

Chris Peden
Chris Peden

I bet if it was for cocaine. The cops would totally say yes. Over half of the force is on cocaine anyways.

Kendra Nelson
Kendra Nelson

When's the last time you went to see a cop to complain about the flu? i'm just saying I usually go to the doctor.

Joel Oftedahl
Joel Oftedahl

Over 60% of drug arrest come from small amounts Marijuana so the group he is protecting is all the Lawyers who benefit from such crimes to go to trial. He is protecting lawyers income in such matters not the law enforcement.

Shaun Mason
Shaun Mason

Ha. If anybody thought Shakes the Trust Fund Governor would OK any marijuana legislation, you were always kidding yourself. The guy is a puppet.

Bil Thorne
Bil Thorne

That sign holder has obviously eaten enough cheetos already

Matthew Martin
Matthew Martin

The Governor seems confused. Maybe some weed would help him think more clearly?

Dan Mason
Dan Mason

Hopefully its not just the pain meds from his hip surgery talking.

MicheleBachmann
MicheleBachmann topcommenter

Dayton is coming off like such a doofus on this issue.  Full legalization is the smart thing to do.  Medical marijuana with as few restrictions as possible is the humane thing to do.   The government doesn't have a right to tell patients what kind of medicine their doctor can give them.  I don't vote Republican because they always want to tell doctors what to do.  I hoped Dayton was smarter than this.  

Mike Green
Mike Green

I think a line from NWA is in order. F the police!

mmrbass
mmrbass

We wouldn't have to lay off anyone. Law enforcement often complains of not having resources. Legalization should free some up.

SosMpls
SosMpls

No one threatened Dayton, he hid under his desk all on his own. And, how much money do you think the public employees unions spent to get him elected? He owes the police more than he owes the folks going through chemo.

chaseerickson
chaseerickson

Every dollar you claim they would lose in fines and funding they would make back tenfold in taxation. Who's the idiot now?

chaseerickson
chaseerickson

There's always one of you around isn't there? Loser

SosMpls
SosMpls

@MicheleBachmann

"On this issue?" Dayton comes off as a doofus on every issue, because he is a doofus.

He just chose his x-wife's friend as his potential Lt. Gov. so I guess the X will be funding his re-election, along with the Unions.

midwestexplorer81
midwestexplorer81 topcommenter

@MicheleBachmann Funny thing is I know police officers personally and they don't even care about pot. Only the Chiefs, County Sheriffs, prosecutors, and the DEA care because it threatens revenue. Most street cops just dump weed on the ground and send people on their way because they don't want to waste their time with it.

MicheleBachmann
MicheleBachmann topcommenter

@SosMpls The last governor let a bridge fall in the river killing innocent Minnesotans.    Republicans like you need to remember that you have no credibility and I don't care what you say.  Republican bigots like you are stupid and couldn't run a Super America, much less a successful state like Minnesota.  

SosMpls
SosMpls

@midwestexplorer81 @MicheleBachmann

The sad thing is, many criminals are allowed to plea down from a more serious crime to a pot charge so the police and prosecutors don't have to do the hard work.

midwestexplorer81
midwestexplorer81 topcommenter

@MicheleBachmann @SosMpls Michele, I can't believe I was letting myself think you were worthy of any respect the last few days. I should have known better than to respect a troll using a congresswoman's name (no matter how crazy she is). You blame Pawlenty for the 35W bridge collapse!!  My god you are a total nut case!

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