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Panel Limits Medical Marijuana Plan

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
A key Minnesota House committee changed, and then passed, a plan making it legal for Minnesotans suffering from severe illnesses to use marijuana for pain relief.

The bill permits people with certain chronic illnesses to obtain, possess and smoke marijuana. Advocates say marijuana can relieve pain that traditional medications cannot.

The Public Safety Policy and Oversight Committee approved the bill Tuesday on a 9-6 margin after placing a two-year limit on the legislation and reducing the number of marijuana plants a patient can possess. Committee members also made it more difficult for patients to grow their own marijuana.

Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty and law enforcement groups continue to oppose the bill by Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia.

Freshman Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing, offered the amendment that imposes a two-year “sunset” on the legislation and raises the minimum age, from 18 to 21, for registered marijuana providers.

“This is my way of trying to say if all these bad things are going to happen, we have a way out,” Kelly said. He voted to send the bill out of committee, but said he reserves the right to change his vote on the floor.

Sen. Steve Murphy, the bill’s chief Senate sponsor, said he was open to the changes.

“That sounds reasonable,” Murphy, DFL-Red Wing, said. “I don’t like sunsets, but we can talk about it.”

Program targeted

A Republican lawmaker proposes eliminating state funding meant to promote school desegregation.

Rep. Pat Garofalo of Farmington said some of the $132 million in “integration” aid allocated for the current budget period is being spent frivolously. Those integration dollars could be better used to increase general education funding, boost school lunch reimbursement or to help balance a state budget deficit, Garofalo said Tuesday.

Rep. Mindy Greiling of Roseville, the top House Democrat on education issues, said she and other legislators already are working on the issue. Rather than eliminate the program, she said there is support for freezing the funding and reviewing the program’s purpose.

More than 100 districts receive state integration aid. Garofalo wants to block such funds from an education funding package for the next two-year budget period beginning July 1.

“It is difficult to argue money being spent is in the best interest of the districts,” Garofalo said.

Bill toughens seat belt law

A Senate transportation spending package that cleared an early hurdle Tuesday includes at least one controversial provision: an enhanced seat belt requirement.

The proposal by Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Steve Murphy, DFL-Red Wing, allows law enforcement officers to stop a vehicle because passengers are not buckled up, making seat-belt violations a primary offense. Current law does not allow traffic stops solely because of seat-belt violations.

Murphy said the seat-belt change would save lives and money. The committee passed the bill on a voice vote.

Scholarship bill idled

A Senate committee wants more information before deciding whether to place new limits on state-funded college athletic scholarships.

A bill by Sen. Ray Vandeveer, R-Forest Lake, prohibits state colleges and universities from using state funds for athletic scholarships to students who are not Minnesota residents or who do not qualify for in-state tuition through reciprocity agreements.

“We don’t have the kind of money we would like to have for scholarships for students, so I think this would focus the opportunities,” Vandeveer said.

A Senate higher education committee set the bill aside because Vandeveer said he needed to research the amount of state money spent on athletic scholarships.

Water permit OK’d

Bills to allow Spirit Mountain ski area in Duluth to draw water from the St. Louis River for its snow-making operation await floor votes in the Senate and House.

A House environment committee approved the proposal on a voice vote Tuesday, sending Democratic Rep. Roger Reinert’s bill to the House floor.

Spirit Mountain executive director Renee Mattson said the ski area wants to make snow with filtered river water. It currently taps into the city’s treated water supply. River water would be less costly, she said.

Spirit Mountain uses around 65 million gallons of water annually to make snow, Mattson said. The ski area will need infrastructure upgrades to draw the river water, she said. That is not part of the legislation.

Fishing program expansion sought

Minnesota’s Let’s Go Fishing program for senior citizens is popular, Rep. Al Juhnke said, but it should include opportunities for aging military veterans.

Juhnke, DFL-Willmar, told House agriculture committee members Tuesday he wants an additional $100,000 over two years spent on the fishing program to encourage military veterans’ participation.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to get those folks out of the (veterans’) homes, out on the water for a day,” Juhnke said.

The bill was sent to an environment committee for further consideration. Juhnke acknowledged that Gov. Tim Pawlenty has not recommended a similar funding increase.

Legislator: Boost livestock grants

A grant program for livestock farmers is so successful it should be expanded, Rep. Dean Urdahl said.

The Grove City Republican said the program received more than 500 applications and used $1 million to fund 38 livestock farm improvement projects in its first year.

“We need to keep the livestock grant going to help Minnesota dairy and livestock producers expand and modernize their operations,” Urdahl said.

The House Agriculture Committee will consider the bill as part of a larger package, but did not give it a spending target.

News Hawk: User: 420 MAGAZINE ® - Medical Marijuana Publication & Social Networking
Source: bemidjipioneer.com
Author: Scott Wente
Copyright: 2009 Forum Communications Co.
Contact: Contact | Bemidji Pioneer | Bemidji, Minnesota
Website: Panel limits medical marijuana plan | Bemidji Pioneer | Bemidji, Minnesota
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