House medical marijuana bill doesn't allow anybody to smoke marijuana
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Today, medical marijuana's House supporters announced a big compromise they hope will be amenable to law enforcement and signed into law by pot unfriendly Gov. Mark Dayton.
The compromise, announced at a Capitol news conference by House Speaker Paul Thissen (D-Minneapolis), Majority Leader Erin Murphy (D-St. Paul), and Rep. Carly Melin (D-Minneapolis), "would create a medical cannabis clinical trial, allowing limited participation by children who are suffering and adults with severe illnesses," a House DFL news release says.
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"The proposal also includes the option of a state-based manufacturer of medication if no federal source of medication is available," it continues.
Qualifying conditions for the medical trial would include seizures (including those characteristic with epilepsy), cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Tourette's syndrome, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), multiple sclerosis (MS), and Crohn's disease.
The bill wouldn't allow anybody to actually smoke marijuana. Instead, patients would vaporize pot, "but only under direct, in-person supervision and the control of a licensed health care provider."
Melin isn't totally thrilled about the deal, but says it's better than nothing.
"Our goal since the beginning has been to provide needed medicine to Minnesotans and children who are suffering and deserve a better chance at a good life," she says in the statement. "I am pleased that we have developed a proposal that can provide real relief for Minnesotans who need it and that has a strong chance at getting signed into law."
Her sentiment was echoed by Thissen.
"All along, our goal has been a compromise that provides needed medicine to children and Minnesotans who need it while responding to concerns from law enforcement and the health community," he says in the statement. "We believe this legislation achieves a compromise that can move forward this session."
Though the prospects for any sort of medical marijuana legislation appeared dead just a few weeks ago, the House bill announced today stands a chance of becoming law:
Melin says law enforcement is neutral on the bill (sted of opposed)-- tomscheck (@tomscheck) May 1, 2014
John Kingrey, with MN County Attorneys, says deal addresses most of the concerns that law enforcement has-- tomscheck (@tomscheck) May 1, 2014
But at least one legislator has already said he won't support the bill, which doesn't go as far as a Senate version that does allow patients to smoke marijuana under certain conditions.
Thissen says he has spoken with the governor on the bill and he thinks it's something Dayton is taking very seriously.-- tomscheck (@tomscheck) May 1, 2014
Heather Azzi, political director of Minnesotans for Compassionate Care, told us earlier this week she expects this session's final medical marijuana legislation to look more like the Senate version than the House's. She didn't immediately return a voicemail seeking comment this afternoon, but made clear following the news conference that her organization isn't a supporter of the House bill:
DFL Sen. Scott Dibble says he's still committed to passing his bill right now but isn't fully rejecting House deal.-- tomscheck (@tomscheck) May 1, 2014
The bill gets its first hearing tomorrow, and supporters said today they expect it'll be on the House floor for a vote next week.
Heather Azzi, with MNs for Compassionate Care, says her group will not back the deal.-- tomscheck (@tomscheck) May 1, 2014
-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.