A significant number of Minnesota lawmakers support the legalization of marijuana for medical use. With the bill set to be discussed in the Minnesota legislature this session Adam Lorch reports there are already 20 other states, including the District of Colombia and Michigan, that have legalized medical marijuana.
"The chances of survival were like 10%" Said Steve Long.
Steve Long is a stage–4 cancer survivor. Diagnosed in 2010, he was treated for about a year with aggressive chemotherapy and surgery to remove the cancer. It took its toll on the now 54 year–old.
Long goes on saying, "I was on Percocet and Valium and a number of other things."
Long was prescribed various narcotics with a long list of side effects.
"I was just throwing up and I was, you know, sleeping all the time." said Long.
After his treatment was over he turned to another legal alternative in Michigan...medical marijuana. He has been using cannabis for over a year and no longer takes pain–pills.
Long explains, "I'm a carpenter and I have a wood shop at home, I'm also a musician."
The Minnesota legislature will begin discussions on the "Compassionate Medical Marijuana" law in January. Co–authored by Iron Range state representative Carly Melin and Senator Scott Dibble. the lawmakers say it's looking promising. But this isn't the first time Minnesota has debated the potent plant.
"It actually passed the legislature in 2009 and governor Pawlenty vetoed it at that time but now we have a new legislature, and a new governor, so we'll see what we're able to do this session." Said Melin.
The bill would allow people like Steve Long to get a prescription for medicinal marijuana to help ease their suffering.
Malin tells me, "There's some pretty overwhelming medical research that suggests that there are some pretty vast benefits to the use of marijuana."
One of the most common users of the medicine is for cancer patients.
Nathan Joyal, the owner of a medical marijuana center in Houghton Michigan tells me, "Cancer is, you know, chemotherapy is painful and expensive and has a low survival rate. The more studies that are done the more studies that come out the answer is becoming pretty clear that cannabis can treat these cancer symptoms without these negative side effects."
Cannabis is still considered a schedule–one drug by the federal government. Minnesota is currently looking at states like Michigan to analyze the safest way to prescribe medical cannabis.
Representative Melin says, "California is an example that I don't think they have strict enough requirements in the medical marijuana laws, but other states are."
But even in states such as Michigan, there is still some confusion, and grey areas surrounding the sale and use of medical marijuana.
L.T. Nicholas Roberts of the Houghton Police Department said, "Even though they have a legal medical marijuana card they're not transporting it correctly and that's where we do run into problems."
The 22–page Minnesota House bill will cover the buying, selling, producing and consumption of medical marijuana next session.
"I think its just a matter of compassionate care for the individuals that really could benefit." Says Melin.
Adam Lorch Reporting