States turn to Minnesota as model for new marijuana bills

Categories: Marijuana

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Flickr via Dank Depot

Lawmakers in other states are now turning to Minnesota's new cannabis law as a model for their own legislation, despite the law's restrictions on eligibility and usage.

Over the past few weeks, legislators in both Pennsylvania and Georgia have turned to the Minnesota law, which passed in May, as a starting point for bills in their own states. But while the Minnesota law makes medical marijuana legal, it's limiting, offering only certain kinds of cannabis for certain patients.

See also:
Mark Dayton signs medical marijuana bill

Minnesota's law makes it legal for people with specific conditions, including cancer, epilepsy, and glaucoma, to use marijuana for medical purposes. That amounts to 5,000 people in the state. However, it isn't legal for those patients to use "loose-leaf" methods such as smoking. Instead, the cannabis will be restricted to other ways of delivery, like pills, liquids, or vapor.

In late June, a Pennsylvania Senate committee passed the "Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act," a bill nearly as conservative as Minnesota's. The legislation would limit the cannabis to oils, edibles, ointments, and vaporization, and would also limit the sale of marijuana to specific, licensed state dispensaries. As for who'd be eligible, the bill wouldn't be as limiting as Minnesota's, as it expands medical marijuana to patients who have diseases like post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain.

"By prohibiting the use of medical cannabis I believe we are denying our most vulnerable citizens an improved quality of health, and therefore life." said Pennsylvania state Sen. Mike Folmer, the co-author of the bill, in a statement on his website.

The legislation still has a long way to go, though, as it needs to get passed by both the House and Senate. And the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett "is expected to veto any marijuana legalization bill that is broader than his proposal for a pilot study of the use of cannabis oil to treat children with epilepsy."

In Georgia, state Rep. Allen Peake has already vowed to introduce a similar bill during next year's legislative session, which starts in January. Peake's plan isn't as fully formed as the Pennsylvania one, but in an interview with the Macon Telegraph, the lawmaker says the goal is to have a highly regulated market in Georgia similar to the Minnesota plan.

While Minnesota's law is serving as a springboard for other states, it hasn't exactly been fully embraced by marijuana advocates. Marcus Harcus, the associate director of MN NORML, said in an email that the restrictions on Minnesota's marijuana law shouldn't make it a basis for any other laws.

"It is ridiculous to see that other states, including New York, are using Minnesota's MMJ program as a model because there is no scientific evidence to base the decision to continue prohibiting the smoking of dried cannabis flowers in their natural, minimally processed form," Harcus writes. "...Tens of thousands of Minnesotans who could benefit from legally smoking cannabis continue to be restricted from safely accessing it in the form the majority would prefer to consume it, i.e. smoking."


Send your story tips to the author, Robbie Feinberg. Follow him on Twitter @robbiefeinberg.




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34 comments
Tyler Chip Moody Suter
Tyler Chip Moody Suter

Sorry, affect vs. effect is my Achilles heel, but thanks for picking out a trivial grammar issue to point out. Anyhow, risks related to inhaling smoke are not the only adverse effects of long term marijuana use. Long term, regular users experience a loss of the sensation that draws a user to using. This leaves a pit that often must be filled by something else, something stronger, be it opiates, alcohol, or other. Even without replacing marijuana with a more destructive substance/habit, this lack of the desired "high" leads to depression, often times to extreme levels. Marijuana is not a terrible thing, in and of itself, but, like so many things, it can be abused. So before we open up the market, there needs to be education, and systems put in place to support addicts. Look at the current state of alcohol abuse. Alcoholics are still treated as pariahs, and often times are alienated rather than supported.

Lily Ann
Lily Ann

What a joke. Any state using this model needn't even be mentioned in the news. How about the pros and cons coming out of CO since their model took effect. Oh the latter of which there are none. This model is a joke and a slap in Minnesotans faces.

Jaime Price Anderson
Jaime Price Anderson

The long term adverse effects (not affects) of marjuana are all due to inhaling smoke and are not found using it in other forms. Also the long term effects of tobacco and alcohol are much worse than cannabis in any form.

Josh Matthews
Josh Matthews

I don't understand why law enforcement had such a big say on this issue.. Maybe government funding would be non existent for the "war on drugs" or should I say the higher ups putting that cash in their own pockets....

Eric Wintz
Eric Wintz

That and marijuana can't be grown in the state of MN. Meanwhile, cannabis is not allowed to be imported into the state in any form. All in the same law. So, yeah sucks if you need it. The punchline for MN is December.

Marcus Nielson
Marcus Nielson

Tyler, I like Dayton for the most part. At the same time this MM bill is a joke. Cautious for what? We have multiple states that have had MM for years and one state that has been fully legal for 6 months. And it's not decriminalized in MN - people are still going to jail for growing a plant. Marijuana is as harmless as it gets (don't give me the "it causes long term problems" argument, drinking too much water in the long term causes problems too). At minimum there are people suffering, including kids, that marijuana would help. I don't see any reason why it shouldn't be legal period. No brainer really.

Tyler Chip Moody Suter
Tyler Chip Moody Suter

Really, Rachael? How so? Lay that out for me. He took zero campaign funds from outside parties, and he will not be getting a lobbying job, after this, I can assure you of that. The dude is dangerous to big corporations precisely because he is independently wealthy and liberal.

Eric Severson
Eric Severson

Whatever the rest of the opinions, the bill did not go far enough for those in need. Restrict licenses all you want, 'vapor only' is wayyyy to restrictive though.

Rachael Joseph
Rachael Joseph

He makes decisions by lining his pockets with pharmaceutical company dollars.

Chris Taylor
Chris Taylor

Dislike! If you read the mandate for MN medicinal it states, "Any patient not cured by medicinal marijuana may be subject to criminal charges". What the fuck is that? Offer treatment and if it's unsuccessful they're subject to criminal offense? What a fucking joke of a state MN!

Jake Lundgren
Jake Lundgren

My original comment was just a loose comment. Doesn't matter who is in, some of us gain and some of us lose. Its always the same thing in that sense. You seem happy so enjoy.

Jake Lundgren
Jake Lundgren

Hey now, give me the credit that I did not pull Pawlenty into this. We can agree on that point anyhow!

Tyler Chip Moody Suter
Tyler Chip Moody Suter

Your right, let's get a guy like Pawlenty back in office, so that we can set our state back another 25 years. Dayton is delivering budget surpluses and getting things done. When is the last time a MN governor has done that?

Tyler Chip Moody Suter
Tyler Chip Moody Suter

You may be right, David, but there is no reason why the bill cannot be expanded upon with further legislation. Better to take a cautious approach, lest a federal court strikes down an aggressive bill, in which case everybody loses.

Chris Welton
Chris Welton

dont look to the newest state. look at the state with the oldest laws. fuckin morons.

David Hlavac
David Hlavac

Dayton IS a great governor, but this bill did not go far enough.

Tyler Chip Moody Suter
Tyler Chip Moody Suter

Just because supporters of legalizing Marijuana are the most outspoken, does not mean they represent the majority of Minnesotans. There are adverse affects associated with long-term marijuana use, and I don't think it's responsible for the government to simply support its all out legalization. MN has already decriminalized it, so it is not as if the state is saying that smoking weed is tantamount to a criminal act. Dayton has opted to take a conservative (ideological, not political) approach to broaching the topic, in order to find out more about the affects it has. He's commissioned further study of it's affects, which is responsible. TO simply bash him because he wants to be cautious is silly.

Jake Lundgren
Jake Lundgren

Haha Dayton serve max terms? Really? Max time would make most sense.

George Lemson
George Lemson

Just like no money out of tax payers pockets for the Stadium. Thanks smokers and drinkers. Dayton is a tool.

Azriel Materia
Azriel Materia

it maybe a start,but not enough traction to keep me in the state.but thats okay,im happy with giving my money to the state of colorado.they earned it with good politics,least on this subject.

Stephi Wold
Stephi Wold

Yep real thoughtful! Didn't he tell one of the mothers to go buy marijuana on the street!

Nick Warhead
Nick Warhead

They need to turn to Colorado for the model, not MN. Dayton cowtowed to law enforcement and the bill didn't amount to much but a limited bunch of crap. I know its a start but there should have been more..

Tyler Chip Moody Suter
Tyler Chip Moody Suter

Ohhh, so it turns out the Dayton administration is simply thoughtful, not behind the times. People need to realize that Dayton is the best governor we've had in MN in a very long time. The man genuinely makes decisions with the people's best interest in mind. I hope he serves max terms.

eyetod
eyetod

minnesota will mess up the regulations for the rest of the country.. 

time to move to CO..


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