Minn House DFL leaders offer medical marijuana legislation compromise

By KBJR News 1

Minn House DFL leaders offer medical marijuana legislation compromise

May 1, 2014 Updated May 2, 2014 at 9:05 AM CDT

St. Paul, MN (NNCNOW.com) - A measure calling for the legalization of medical marijuana in Minnesota is gaining new traction in the House.

State Rep. Carly Melin (DFL – Hibbing) joined House DFL leaders, parents and children to announce a new, compromise medical marijuana legislative proposal Thursday.

The measure is a scaled-back proposal creating a clinical trial for medical cannabis allowing limited participation by children who are suffering and adults with severe illnesses.

The proposal also includes the option of a state-based manufacturer of medication if no federal source of medication is available.

Qualifying conditions would include seizures (including those characteristic with epilepsy), cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Tourette’s syndrome, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), multiple sclerosis (MS), and Crohn’s disease.

“Our goal since the beginning has been to provide needed medicine to Minnesotans and children who are suffering and deserve a better chance at a good life,” said Melin. “I am pleased that we have developed a proposal that can provide real relief for Minnesotans who need it and that has a strong chance at getting signed into law.”

The bill incorporates much of Governor Dayton’s clinical trial proposal, but goes further in providing assurance that medication will be available if no federal clinical trial is approved. It also includes the ability for vapor delivery (plant/leaf) of medical marijuana, but only under direct, in-person supervision and the control of a licensed health care provider.

“We believe this legislation achieves a compromise that can move forward this session," said House Speaker Rep. Paul Thissen.

Law enforcement has signaled they do not oppose the legislation.

"I appreciate the efforts being made to develop a bill that offers hope to children and adults suffering from horrible diseases." Gov. Mark Dayton said about the new proposal.

"The bill places heavy new responsibilities on the Minnesota Department of Health, and I have asked Commissioner Ehlinger to assess the costs of its implementation and its practicability. I also want legal counsel to assess the potential liability to the State from sponsoring such trials.

The House Rules committee will hear the bill on Friday.

A Senate bill, being carried by DFL Senator Scott Dibble includes a clinical trial, similar to the one in Melin's bill. However, it goes a step further and legalizes marijuana for medical use, including smoking it, with tight restrictions.

That bill has already been approved in several key committees.