The Free Press, Mankato, MN


April 13, 2014


Why it matters: The issue should rest with lawmakers, not solely with law enforcement

When Minnesota lawmakers return from their spring break, one of the issues they may face is medical marijuana. This has been kicked around too many times. We feel it deserves to be pushed from committee and debated on the floor.

The issue has been treated like a hot potato over the years. The Legislature passed a medical marijuana bill in 2009 only to see it vetoed by then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

When it re-emerged for this session, Gov. Mark Dayton said he would not approve any legislation that didn’t have law enforcement approval. That might as well have been a veto because law enforcement voices have said they opposed it outright as nothing more than expansion of drugs in the state. Attempts were made to negotiate with law enforcement officials but there was no budging.

When the heat was applied, however, Dayton sought $2.2 million to study the medical benefits for medical marijuana. Then the governor challenged lawmakers to stop “hiding behind their desks” and deal with the issue. We couldn’t agree more, since there appears to be bipartisan support to deal with this.

A bill by Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, would allow the use of up to 21/2 ounces of cannabis purchased from a state-licensed dispensary, the number of which would depend on the size of the county.

Doctors would have to certify particular patients would benefit from such treatment. Dibble’s bill allows for marijuana to be smoked.

Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, has a bill in the House that would broaden the proposed law by tracking from seed to sale but would not allow smoking. It also would require companies wanting to grow marijuana to be licensed and plants cultivate in a controlled conditions. There would be no private cultivation and carries penalties for smoking even for medical reasons.

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