Medical marijuana bill awaits Gov. Dayton's signature

By KBJR News 1

May 16, 2014 Updated May 17, 2014 at 10:34 AM CDT

St. Paul, MN (NNCNOW.com) - In the final hours of the 2014 legislative session, House lawmakers approved a bill legalizing medical marijuana for some people with debilitating health conditions.

The bill now heads to Governor Dayton, who has said he would sign it into law.

The House approved the bill in an 89-40 vote.

The Senate also voted in favor of the bill in a 46-16 vote.

Once signed into law, the drug would be available in oil, pill and vapor form to people with debilitating conditions, if a doctor recommends it.

Martha Schulz wears a pin with the picture of her seven year old niece, Greta, who suffers from epilepsy.

"She's currently living in Colorado with my sister since November 12th of 2013 in order to gain access to medical marijuana," Schulz said.

Schulz made her final trip to the Capitol Friday ahead of a legislative vote to legalize medical marijuana.

"We're one step closer to bringing her home and she can have safe and legal access to medical marijuana in the comforts of her own home," she said.

Representative Carly Melin (DFL-Hibbing) has been at the center of the controversial debate.

"It's been a long journey this session. There was great citizen advocacy that really made this bill happen.>>

The measure aims to help ease the pain of children and adults suffering from a number of illnesses ranging from cancer to epilepsy.

"Really, this is a life changer for them," Rep. Melin said.

House and Senate lawmakers struck a deal on a compromise on Thursday calling for a patient registry, two medical marijuana manufacturing facilities and eight distribution centers across the state.

Northland lawmakers have their concerns about the bill.

"I'm disappointed that it's going to be more of the House bill because that's the Governor's position than the Senate bill which means less people like Veterans struggling with PTSD will be able to access this treatment. But it's definitely a step forward," said Sen. Roger Reinert (DFL-Duluth).

Rep. Erik Simonson (DFL-Duluth) did not support the original House or Senate versions of the bill, but said all the parties have worked hard to reach a compromise.

"This bill will be the strictest in the country, and I certainly intend on supporting it, if for no other reason, than the simple reason it will provide relief for folks that really need some relief," said Rep. Erik Simonson (DFL-Duluth.)

Written by Kevin Jacobsen
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