Medical marijuana smoking ban would essentially be enforced on honor system

dayton pot.jpg
Dayton is worried medical marijuana will actually be used for recreational purposes.
As a conference committee tries to hash out (pardon the pun) a medical marijuana compromise, one issue that's already been agreed upon is that Minnesota's medical marijuana system won't allow patients to actually smoke marijuana.

The House bill doesn't even allow patients to get their hands on plant-form marijuana, while the Senate version allows patients to leave a dispensary with up to 2.5 ounces. Once patients return home, they'd be prohibited from smoking the stuff, but enforcement of that provision would basically boil down to the honor system. (For a nice breakdown of the differences between the House and Senate version of the bill, click here.)

See also:
Scott Dibble: the Senate medical marijuana bill is better, and here's why

Asked about that provision, Heather Azzi, political director of Minnesotans for Compassionate Care, points out that "every other medical marijuana state in the country trusts the patients with their medicine, as we do with oxycontin. This is nothing new."

Those convicted of violating the smoking ban would face a $200 fine under the Senate version.

A previous version of the House medical marijuana bill required patients to remain under medical supervision while using marijuana, but that provision was removed from the bill now under consideration in conference committee. So while patients wouldn't be able to get their hands on actual marijuana, they would be able to vaporize liquids and oils from the comfort of their home. (Ironically, those extracts are actually more intoxicating than straight-up plant marijuana.)

During a Monday news conference, Gov. Mark Dayton expressed concern about medical marijuana being diverted for recreational use.

"It's just to me impossible to believe that somebody is gonna buy two and a half ounces of marijuana and not smoke it or not sell it to somebody else who will," Dayton said. "It just defies common sense in my judgment."

But Azzi points out that the Senate bill includes a felony-level penalty to diversion. Furthermore, offenders would have their medical marijuana cards revoked and would be banned from participating in the program.

Dayton is concerned, however, that allowing patients to take leaf marijuana home with them will turn Minnesota into Colorado before too long.

(For more, click to page two.)

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