MN House passes medical marijuana bill with overwhelming support

Rep. Carly Melin (DFL-Hibbing) defending the House version of a medical marijuana bill
The Minnesota House approved medical marijuana legislation Friday with overwhelming support that cut across party lines.

It's passage, with a 86-39 vote, leaves Minnesota poised to become the 22nd state with a medical marijuana program. What that program will look like is still up in the air. A conference committee is now tasked with hashing out two very different bills before dropping the final decision on Gov. Mark Dayton.

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MN Senate passes medical marijuana bill

The House version, lead by Carly Melin (DFL-Hibbin), is far more conservative. Melin acknowledges that the proposal wasn't as broad and inclusive as some had hoped, "but I can't take an all-or-nothing approach this session," she says. "We need to provide relief for these families now."

The Senate bill, which was approved Wednesday and spearheaded by Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis), has neither the support of law enforcement nor the governor, but it saves both the state and patients more money, and provides a wider reaching distribution system for a great number of people in pain. It passed with overwhelming support on Wednesday, despite the efforts of some boring old biddies to paint marijuana as a mysterious substance and a killer.

On Friday, the Reefer Madness baton passed to Rep. Bob Barett (R-Lindstrom), a marketing executive at Hazelden Foundation treatment center. In support of an amendment that would have prevented the public health commissioner from approving other marijuana delivery methods, Barrett gave the example of a Wyoming student who, in April, ate a few too many marijuana cookies, then fell to his death from a balcony in Denver.

Barrett asserted that he was just as compassionate as anyone else -- his wife, in fact, could benefit from medical marijuana. However, he disapproves of the plant generally, because of its potential for addiction.

"I empathize with the moms and dads and kids (who could also benefit)," he says, "but see too many unintended negative consequences of this bill."

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