Parents of sick children slam Gov. Dayton for blocking medical marijuana bill

By KBJR News 1

March 26, 2014 Updated Mar 26, 2014 at 10:13 PM CDT

St. Paul, MN (NNCNOW.com) - A group of mothers with children who suffer from epilepsy are lashing out against Governor Mark Dayton.

The group came together Wednesday to respond to comments from the Governor that they say crossed the line.

They claim the Governor is using them as "political cover."

"Governor Dayton crossed the line yesterday when he publicly stated parents and advocates in this room are dismissing the opportunity to help children who are suffering from epilepsy. I will do absolutely everything to help my daughter," said Maria Botker, whose daughter suffers from epilepsy.

The Governor made the comment during a radio interview in which he said the medical marijuana bill this session is dead.

In a statement released a day later, the Governor said it was in no way intended to refer to victims of terrible diseases or their parents and regretted his words were quote "unclear."

But Jessica Hauser, whose son suffers from epilepsy, says it goes a step further.

She claims the Governor told her to buy marijuana off the streets during a meeting with him at his mansion.

"I don't need the added stress of becoming a criminal to get medication for my son. That's absurd. To have the top official in MN suggest that to my face when I'm looking for compassion and a thoughtful solution, it's completely offensive," said Jessica Hauser.

The Governor responded to the claim saying he doesn't advocate breaking the law, but understands parents would do anything possible to help their children.

The current bill, approved by a House Committee earlier this month, has been at a standstill since the Governor expressed his concerns about the risks. He says there are better ways of approaching the controversial issue.

The Governor rolled out his own proposal to help children suffering from epilepsy with support from the Epilepsy Foundation, the Mayo Clinic and law enforcement agencies.

It calls for clinical trials and a health impact assessment, which could begin within six to eight months of implementation.

While the mothers agree research is crucial, they say they can't wait any longer.

"Medical research of this type that he has in his proposal, takes anywhere from five to 15 years to help anyone. This is just not time our children have," said Botker.

The chief author of the bill, Representative Carly Melin (DFL-Hibbing), says the bill, in its current form, has enough support from the House and Senate to pass.

Written by Kevin Jacobsen
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