Senate says yes to medical marijuana

April 10, 2007

Associated Press, KTSP TV (MN)

A Minnesota Senate panel gave narrow approval to a medical marijuana bill that Gov. Tim Pawlenty has said he would veto if it reaches his desk.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill 5-4 Tuesday after hearing from authorities concerned about the impact of making marijuana more easily accessible.

The bill would allow doctors to recommend marijuana to patients suffering from such things as severe nausea, seizures or intractable pain. A similar proposal is working its way through the House.

During an often emotional three-hour hearing, law-enforcement officials said the proposal would send the wrong message about the dangers of marijuana, conflict with federal law and be hard to enforce.

"In my world I don't think we're going to be able to tell the good guys from the bad guys," said Bob Bushman, president of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association.

Pawlenty has said it sends the wrong message about marijuana use, particularly to young people.

Sen. Steve Murphy, DFL-Red Wing, who said he became a sponsor after witnessing his father endure pain as a cancer patient, said the legislation would apply to only a small group of people. He said concerns about large-scale abuse are overstated.

"It is not going to happen," Murphy said. "I'm bucking the system on this one because traditional medicine hasn't worked for them."

The bill would prohibit medical marijuana from being grown in the home. Only a registered nonprofit organization could grow the marijuana.

Both the House and Senate versions still await action in their respective finance committees.

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