Medical marijuana legalization bill advances in House Committee

By Andrea Parrott, Minnesota House of Representatives  Public Information Services

A number of medical marijuana supporters shared tears and stories of severe child epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, cancer and other serious conditions Tuesday night. Medical marijuana, they said, either has helped them or could help them.

Angie and Josh Weaver believe a form of medical marijuana low in the addictive component of the drug could help their 7-year-old daughter, Amelia, who is diagnosed with Dravet Syndrome. The disease causes frequent seizures and has left her unable to communicate and has affected her cognitive ability. Traditional medications have not worked to control the seizures, they said.

“We’re just one of the many, many families in Minnesota that need and want this for our child, for our loved one,” said Angie Weaver.

The House Health and Human Services Policy Committee approved HF1818, sponsored by Rep. Carly Melin (DFL-Hibbing) on a split voice-vote and sent it to the House Government Operations Committee. Sen. D. Scott Dibble (DFL-Mpls) sponsors the Senate companion bill, SF1641, which awaits action by the Senate Health, Human Services and Housing Committee.

An amendment that would have allowed medical marijuana except when smoked and would have removed the provision for cultivated marijuana plants failed 10-8. Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen (R-Glencoe) put forth the amendment.

“As far as I’m concerned, you keep ‘smoking’ in there and you keep ‘cultivation’ in there, you’re going to lose a lot of reps,” said Gruenhagen. He added that he also thought the bill would lose law enforcement support.

The basics of the medical marijuana legalization bill

The bill would allow a registered patient or designated caregiver to possess 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana and, under certain conditions, up to six marijuana plants.

Those allowed to take medical marijuana would include those who have a debilitating medical condition such as glaucoma, cancer and AIDS, seizures, severe muscle spasms and severe, debilitating pain and other conditions as specified by the Department of Health.

The department would be responsible for several aspects of the plan, such as creating a process for renewing registry identification cards, scoring competing locations for the marijuana dispensaries, developing standards for dispensaries to prevent illegal activities and creating a system for suspending or revoking identification cards and dispensary registrations.

Prohibited in the bill would be driving a vehicle under the influence and smoking in public. Other regulatory provisions include those concerning marijuana dispensaries and related facilities.

 

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