MEDICAL MARIJUANA: Senate passes bill by 48-18 - Dallas News |

MEDICAL MARIJUANA: Senate passes bill by 48-18

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

On Tuesday evening, the Minnesota Senate took a major step toward legalizing cannabis for medical use in the state by voting to pass a bill that would allow doctors to prescribe marijuana to patients with certain health conditions.

Supporters of medical marijuana legislation are anxiously watched the Minnesota Senate as a bill fresh off a Monday passage in committee headed to the full chamber on Tuesday at the Capitol. Shortly after 6 p.m., the measure was passed by a vote of 48-18 after a period of vigorous debate.

The Senate vote tally amounts to a veto-proof majority; however, a more restrictive bill in the House has yet to come up for a vote.


"Fundamentally members, the question is just that: Do you believe that health decisions are best made between doctors and patients? If you believe that, you ought to vote green on the bill." - Sen. Branden Petersen

"We should probably be OK with snake oil, bloodletting, and the very popular leeching of a patient." - Sen. Warran Limmer

"For God's sake, people are suffering. Let's hear their prayer." - Sen. Charles Wiger


SF 1641, sponsored by Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis), would allow doctors to prescribe marijuana to people suffering from conditions like cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis-C, ALS, glaucoma, Tourette's syndrome and PTSD.

Patients would be issued marijuana ID cards and doctors administering the cannabis would be tracked, as well as the conditions being treated.

Jessica Hauser holds up a picture of her son Wyatt who suffers from epilepsy

Dibble said the program will pay for itself by fees collected from patients and treatment centers.

"I want to express my profound respect for those who have a differing view," Dibble said during his closing statements.

Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen (R) attacked the bill, saying it would lead to recreational legislation. As a former sheriff, he said that in his background, he's "seen the devastation of this drug."

The Senate bill does not have the support of law enforcement officials, however, and Gov. Mark Dayton has warned he won't sign any marijuana legislation that police are not on board with.


Neither the Senate nor the House bills allow patients to smoke the drug, but rather, they could take it in pill or oil form or with a vaporizer. If a bill passes, Minnesota would be the only state of the 21 and the District of Columbia that bans smoking marijuana.


Rep. Carly Melin has introduced what is being described as "compromise medical marijuana legislation" that would start an observational research study -- unlike the previous clinical trial model -- that would limit participation to children and adults suffering from the following severe health problems:

- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Cancer
- Crohn's disease
- Glaucoma
- Seizures, including epilepsy
- Severe and persistent muscle spasms, including multiple sclerosis
- Tourette's syndrome

Melin's bill would establish a Minnesota Department of Health program specifically dedicated to making significant clinical findings on the therapeutic use of cannabis, and patients would need to apply to be approved to participate in the patient registry program.

FISCAL NOTE: $4.9-million impact in 3 years [PDF]

Only approved patients would be able to access cannabis, and the bill would require health practitioners to record treatment plans, outcomes and submit that data to the patient registry program so that MDH, or a contracted third party, can research and study the effects of its use in the state.

So far, the state estimates that 5,045 Minnesotans would enroll; however, they still won't be allowed to smoke or vaporize marijuana leaves under the law. Melin's bill allows medical cannabis in liquid and pill form only, but vaporizing those substances will be allowed.

“If they want to go all the way and send marijuana all over the state for people to smoke, it’s not going to pass,” Dayton said in a Fox 9 Morning News interview last week.

As for where the medical cannabis would come from, Melin's bill allows for only one Minnesota manufacturer that must be able to provide a reliable supply by July 1, 2015 and be approved by the Minnesota Department of Health.

Although Melin's version of the bill also has not won the approval of law enforcement groups, it passed out of the House Ways and Means Committee on a voice vote, placing it on the general register. It is scheduled for an informational hearing before the House Public Safety and Civil Law committees on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m., and could see a full vote before the House on Friday.

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