Medical marijuana bill passes first test with signs that law enforcement is mellowing

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Coleen Danger
Maria Botker throws her arms forward and droops her head, mimicking, in slow-motion, the way in which her seven-year-old daughter wilts daily. She calls the worst of these "drop seizures."

The Botkers live a fragmented life between Minnesota and Colorado so they can get access to Charlotte's Web -- a strain of marijuana that, when ingested as an oil, has been shown to control epilepsy and help children like theirs regain cognitive functions.

"This is not the way we want to live," Botker says.

She was speaking Tuesday before the House Health and Human Services Committee, whose members heard nearly three hours of testimony from a doctor, a pastor, caregivers, and patients, including Andrew Johnson, Pat McClellan, and Joni Whiting.

SEE ALSO: When will medical marijuana be legal in Minnesota?

By the end of the night, the committee had approved a bill introduced by DLF State Rep. Carly Melin that could legalize medical use of marijuana through state-regulated dispensaries. The bill has several more stops through the committee level before reaching the legislature and possibly the desk of Gov. Mark Dayton.

The shadow of the state's top cops and prosecutors hung over Tuesday's hearing, even though the scope of the testimony was limited to the medical efficacy of marijuana. A handout that circulated around the room -- and bears the name of the Minnesota Law Enforcement Coalition -- suggests that the biggest opponents of the bill are ready to talk.

The handout urged lawmakers to strip the bill of language allowing some patients to grow their own supply and to limit qualifying conditions to "seizures, late stage cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis or AIDS." (See the whole thing on page 2.)

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State Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen
Several of the points on the handout would later come out of the mouth of Republican State Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen, who proposed an amendment that would restrict the use of medical marijuana to extracts -- liquids, pills, vapor, and injection (whatever that means). Such concessions, he argued, would go a long way to bring law enforcement on board.

Gruenhagen's amendment was shot down, but not before Autumn Leva of the MN Family Council got in her two cents about the dangers of the plant.

"This is still a highly addictive, mind-altering drug," she says. "This bill sends entirely the wrong message to our youth."

The committee disagreed, and the bill easily passed their review. But you can expect a tougher battle at later committee hearings, including the one addressing public safety concerns.

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

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24 comments
shadeaux14
shadeaux14

Former Minnesotan here,


Good luck on getting access to this safe and effective medicine. I have MS and was able to stop taking the Oxycontin and Morphine I had taken for 10 years and replace it with MMJ which is much safer and NOT addictive. And none of the "Doom and Gloom" scenarios the prohibitionists predicted came true and we've had MMJ for 3 years now.


P.S. It's going to be 82 and sunny today and I'm having lunch with a "Snowbird" from Minneapolis today.

TRUE_JAKE
TRUE_JAKE

@MNNORML @citypages Late stage cancer? Give me a break, they should be allowed to have it at any stage. Prime example, cops are not doctors.

Dusty Trice
Dusty Trice

Governor Dayton and Minnesota Law Enforcement definitely still want to be able to arrest people for simple marijuana possession. They see prohibition as very profitable, so limiting safe access to patients is a key component of their compromise strategy. The total lack of knowledge on the available science related to the cannabis plant is on full displayed in their surprisingly science-light xerox. It's pretty bad. Law enforcement isn't softening. Governor Mark Dayton supports this nonsense and when presented with rational arguments, science, and multiple public opinion polls saying Minnesotans are tired of Prohibition, we get more of the same. Governor Dayton has made it clear that he's weighing public safety as a factor in his decisions related to marijuana. The Governor Mark Dayton and Minnesota Law Enforcement Marijuana Safety Plan appears to be arresting their way out of a real conversation on the medical efficacy of marijuana.

Jake Condon
Jake Condon

Legalizing "the" gateway drug?? I can't believe MN would want to do something like that to help sick people and make millions of dollars to put towards schools, roads, and other programs to benefit the state (sarcasm). Autumn Leva sounds like Maude Flanders.

David Bjorklund
David Bjorklund

Instead of having his hip replaced Dayton should have had a backbone implanted so he could stand up to Stanek and those like him.

greenthinks
greenthinks

In an attempt to micro manage this resource the propaganda and misinformation will eventually reach the level of absurdity to prove it is in itself useless to regulate a plant that grows like a weed. The vested interests lead to such a level of intellectual dishonesty that is becomes so apparent  to all that professionals need to step in and make these medical decisions. The ignorant and uneducated musings will become a source of amusement and satire .    Minnesota being twenty first in position, actually a decade behind those that have already had this discussion ,will and should be held up as a laughing stock to the rest of the nation.   Obviously the fascist drug warriors need and should be replaced in their supposed positions of power. We need to remember  the role of public servants and retire those who think they are here to corral and control the masses  for their own nefarious vested interests. If Dayton vetos this bill he should be shunned  out of office along with the other drug warriors.


kyl3wyld
kyl3wyld

This bill doesn't go far enough. There are many more reasons that people should be prescribed medical marijuana. I worry that if this bill is passed that a lot of people will feel that the job is done and forget about all of this. Luckily there are groups like NORML that will still be pushing for full legalization even if this bill is passed. Also even if full legalization is passed that doesn't mean that hemp production will be legal. I hope that some day the Oil companies and Paper companies see the benefit of getting invested in hemp before it's too late.

jim.forrey
jim.forrey

Marijuana highly addictive?! Where is the evidence to back that up? Has anyone seen any real evidence of mj being a "gateway" to harder drugs? How many people die from mj vs alcohol and tobacco every day?

The anti-legalization crowd is grasping at thin air.

Daren L. MN
Daren L. MN

Great. Let's let gov't control this. Corn turned out great.

Michael Pfarr
Michael Pfarr

Maybe I just misunderstood, but did FOX9 misreport this last night by saying the bill did not make it through committee?

MicheleBachmann
MicheleBachmann topcommenter

I love how anti-military Republicans and the cops are too.  Like you shouldn't be able to get marijuana for anxiety and PTSD.    They must really hate the troops to deny them medicine.   Republicans fought two poorly planned wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.   They didn't give the troops the body armor they needed.  Now they won't take care of them when they are home.   How many military veterans will commit suicide because they can't get marijuana which helps with PTSD and anxiety.  

MicheleBachmann
MicheleBachmann topcommenter

Finally you can see the opposition to this taking form.   Facist pig cops and their enabling right wing bigot politicians.    Why exactly are the right wing goons The Minnesota Family Council giving their opinion?   They aren't doctors.  They aren't experts on this issue.   Just a bunch of stupid bigots who think having money means the world should listen to them.    Vote for progressives and big things happen.   Where is the small government Republicans now?    Bunch of hypocrites.  

dhouge59
dhouge59

No. What Governor Dayton is afraid of is that big drug is going to miss out on the profits, that could also be shared by entities such as Target, and other mass merchants. They don't want to miss the opportunity to continue to bilk the public for healthcare, because we can grow this stuff in our own back yards. When law enforcement makes health care decisions for citizens, we live in a police state. It's always about the money.

dhouge59
dhouge59

It is not a "gateway" drug, it is a "stairway" drug. :)

dhouge59
dhouge59

How bout having his head replaced?

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