Medical marijuana bill to undergo first test Tuesday at committee level [UPDATE]

Coleen Danger
A bill that could legalize medical use of marijuana in Minnesota undergoes its first test tomorrow. It's scheduled for conversation at the House Health and Human Services Committee, and both sides of the debate have begun preparing their people.

At the moment, the list of speakers remains hush-hush as committee administrators want to avoid the possibility that either side will try to stack the room. It'll be made public about two hours before the meeting.

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

However, supporters of medical marijuana say they're looking to tap caregivers and patients, including Minneapolis Councilman Andrew Johnson, who suffers from glaucoma in both eyes, as well as Joni Whiting, whose daughter Stephanie found relief from marijuana while dying of melanoma.

Patrick McClellan
Patrick McClellan is another possible candidate -- he stopped working as a chef three years ago because of Muscular Dystrophy -- and plans to sign up to speak. The only thing that prevents his violent and debilitating spasms, he says, is marijuana.

"The people who suffer are people like me," McClellan says. "Why should I go to jail? How can the county attorney and law enforcement determine my health care?"

The strongest voice of opposition to the bill, as McClellan suggested, is the state's top cops and prosecutors, though there's no guarantee any of them will show up for what's strictly a conversation about health. Our messages have not been returned.

The hearing starts at 2:15 p.m. -- with an intermission between 4 and 6 -- in Room 10 at the State Office Building in St. Paul. It seems unlikely the bill will get stuck at the committee level indefinitely considering that eight of the 20 committee members, including the chair and vice chair, are among the bill's sponsors.

A word of advice: committee administrators say the chair will limit the scope of public testimony to health matters rather than the legislative implications of the bill on public safety. This is why the journalism gods invented comment sections.

:: UPDATE ::

Heather Azzi, political director for Minnesotans for Compassionate Care and the author of the medical marijuana bill, announced that several patients will be joined at Tuesday's hearing by Dr. Sue Sisley.

Sisley is a physician and medical marijuana researcher based in Scottsdale, Arizona. Testimony begins at 6 p.m.

In a statement, Azzi says:
It is well past time for Minnesota to adopt a law that allows seriously ill people to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it. State lawmakers showed leadership on this issue five years ago, but their efforts were derailed by a governor's misguided veto. There is just as much need for this legislation now as there was then, and even more Minnesotans support it this time around.

-- Follow Jesse Marx on Twitter @marxjesse or send tips to

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Jason Kugel
Jason Kugel

It's looking promising to me. They passed a amendment that lowered the amount you can grow from 12 plants to 6. Why would they do that unless they were thinking about passing it.. Maybe Dayton should have sat in the hearings when all these families were sharing there stories today..

Melissa Niederkorn
Melissa Niederkorn

People are supposed to make policy, not law enforcement. Law enforcement is supposed to enforce the will of the people.

MicheleBachmann topcommenter

Thank goodness the DFL is in charge so we can get some real progress in this state.  It's savage and evil we lock people in cages for smoking a plant.  It's especially shameful when you consider the medical benefits of marijuana.   Shame on any politician that votes against marijuana legalization.  

Brendan Scherer
Brendan Scherer

So a heads up to those who want this law and who also vote for Dayton, you may want to take this into consideration and write to him regarding this. Or not vote for him.

Nick Glover
Nick Glover

Why do the police have any say in medical practices? I didn't realize all our law enforcers suddenly had medical degrees and licenses to practice overnight, or had any say in policy or laws they enforce. Huh, learn something new every day.

Nancy Lynn Gosline
Nancy Lynn Gosline

Dayton himself suffers from Chronic Pain. You would think he would remember that it's the people who voted him into office not the Law Enforcement!


The fact that 20 other states have approved medical marijuana laws should weigh very heavily upon Minnesota's legislators in making the determination in Minnesota. Need it be argued ad Nauseun once again? It would seem that these questions have been answered time upon time again and again . Surely that should have great bearing upon the matter. To have the police needing to approve a legislative bill would be laughable comedy except that is the very definition of a police state. Let alone the human misery thats involved with this issue 

.Let' s not forget that this plant is shown in scientific study's to be the miracle cure for various cancers mankind has been seeking for decades here in America at enormous cost either. The American cancer society National Institute of health etc etc. This plant does alot more than just give you the munchies.

Brendan Scherer
Brendan Scherer

It doesn't matter until Dayton is out of office. He won't sign off on it until the LE community signs off on it. Which will never happen. Not that their say should matter in this, in the slightest. Police officers should not determine healthcare.

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