Both the state House of Representatives and the state Senate in Minnesota recently signed off on medical marijuana legislation. Sounds like a reason to celebrate, right? Not so fast. The two bills are so different, both legislative bodies must come to a compromise before sending a single bill to the governor’s office. And some are worried they won’t do it in time.
The Minnesota Legislature is scheduled to adjourn the week of May 19, so the clock is ticking on a compromise.
The bill passed by the Senate was approved 48-18 and is the more liberal of the two, establishing up to 55 dispensaries across the state. Patients under this law could possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for the treatment of conditions like cancer, AIDS, glaucoma, epilepsy, chronic pain, and MS.
The House bill, on the other hand, creates a research study of medical marijuana. It would enroll about 5,000 people in the program that would deliver medicinal pot only in the form of liquids or pills and only from licensed pharmacists.
“Refusing access to the whole plant form and providing only the limited, much more expensive forms of processed cannabis in the House bill leaves many patients behind, and exposes those who do participate to lesser efficacy and greater risk,” wrote Sen. Scott Dibble, chief sponsor of the Senate bill.
Governor Mark Dayton says he will consider medical marijuana legislation, but the bill won’t make it to his desk unless the lawmakers can come to a compromise.
The more cautious bill, creating a research study, is supported by law enforcement, whose main concern is that marijuana from a state-approved medical program doesn’t make it onto the black market. Dayton has dropped hints that he too would prefer this bill.
“It’s just, to me, impossible to believe that somebody is going to buy 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana, and not smoke it or not sell it to someone else who will,” Dayton said at a press conference.
Though he initially said he wouldn’t sign any medical marijuana bill that law enforcement opposed, he may be wavering. Latest reports indicate the opinion of law enforcement is only one of many things he will take into consideration before signing.