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Minnesota Senate To Take Up Medical Marijuana Bill Tuesday

The General

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Legislation to legalize medical marijuana in Minnesota is scheduled for a floor vote in the state Senate on Tuesday. Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party leaders scheduled the debate after the Senate Finance Committee approved the bill Monday on a 14-7 bipartisan vote. The legislation from Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, would let patients with certain debilitating medical conditions obtain 2 1/2 ounces of usable marijuana if recommended by a physician.

Patients would obtain ID cards from the state Health Department and be allowed to purchase cannabis from a new network of up to 55 dispensaries across the state. "I'm sure it will pass," Dibble said in an interview Monday. "I'm confident (it will pass) on a pretty bipartisan basis." Law enforcement groups testified last week against the bill, saying marijuana is an addictive drug that often leads to other problems. Gov. Mark Dayton has pushed for a compromise on medical marijuana that law enforcement groups can live with. Those groups have been neutral on a medical marijuana bill by Rep. Carly Melin, DFL-Hibbing, that would sponsor research. That bill is moving through the House.

In comments to reporters Monday, Dayton said he wanted to see final versions of both bills before passing judgment. "We'll have to see how it comes out," the governor said. With an amendment passed by the Senate Finance Committee on Monday, the bill would create no costs for the state general fund, Dibble said. The change increases to $140 from $100 the annual fee patients would pay for dispensary ID cards; the funds would cover projected state costs for law enforcement activity related to marijuana use.

Melin was expected to present her bill with changes before the Ways and Means Committee in the House on Monday evening. In its original form, Melin's bill made $2.2 million available to fund studies over a two-year period. The sum "was not nearly enough" for clinical trials, Melin said in an interview, so the bill will now fund what she called "observational research." Dibble's bill would not let patients smoke marijuana. Instead, they could use it in the form of pills or liquids. Patients also could use marijuana in vaporizing devices. Marijuana use would be limited to people with the following debilitating medical conditions: cancer; glaucoma; HIV/AIDS; hepatitis C; Tourette's syndrome; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Access also would be allowed for patients with a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition that produces wasting syndrome; severe, intractable pain; severe nausea; seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy; severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis; and Crohn's disease. The bill would create a process for the state health commissioner to add conditions to the list under certain requirements. The health commissioner also would screen applications for groups that apply to open a dispensary, which can't be located within 1,000 feet of a public or private school. People taking medical marijuana still could be subject to civil, criminal or other penalties for possessing or using cannabis on a school bus; on the grounds of a preschool or a primary or secondary school; or in a correctional facility.


News Moderator - The General @ 420 MAGAZINE ®
Source: Twincities.com
Author: Christopher Snowbeck
Contact: Contact Us
Website: Minnesota Senate to take up medical marijuana bill Tuesday - TwinCities.com
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