Minnesota Medical Marijuana Bill Advances

April 05, 2005

Conrad deFiebre, Star Tribune

The push to add Minnesota to the list of 10 states that have legalized marijuana for medical use has passed a milestone with approval by a state Senate committee, but it isn't expected to go much farther this year.

The Senate Health and Family Security Committee advanced the measure to the Judiciary Committee on an unrecorded voice vote Tuesday evening, the first time it has advanced in the Minnesota Legislature.

Doctors and medical patients, including a military veteran who was arrested for possessing marijuana that he used to ease the effects of cancer chemotherapy, testified in favor of the bill sponsored by Sen. Steve Kelley, DFL-Hopkins. The Minnesota Family Council spoke against it, saying it would be a bad influence on children.

Earlier Tuesday, Gov. Tim Pawlenty said he opposes the legislation because he believes enough other medications are already legal. Kelley said those drugs don't work for everybody.

The bill would allow people with certain debilitating conditions - including cancer, glaucoma, Alzheimer's disease, AIDS and multiple sclerosis - to get a doctor's certification that marijuana would help them and to register with the state for an exemption from arrest for possession of up to 12 plants or 2½ ounces of marijuana.

Similar rules are in place in Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington state, but federal authorities have not recognized them and the issue is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

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