Senate Committee Passes Medical Marijuana Bill

The Star Tribune reports that a medical marijuana bill has made progress at the State Capitol as the 2014 legislative session starts to near its end.

The Senate Health Committee passed a piece of legislation on April 25 with a 7-3 vote. It is the first time this year that the bill has reached a vote in any committee and it is surprising that it passed.

One mother whose son has infantile epilepsy is hopeful that the bill will take the necessary steps toward becoming a law.

The next step is for the bill to clear the Local Government committee and then it must clear the Judiciary Committee before it reaches the Senate.

Before voting on the bill, an amendment proposed by Senator Julie Rosen to create a research study instead of legalizing cannabis was rejected. However, this amendment was close to what had been proposed by Governor Mark Dayton and Ed Ehlinger, Health Commissioner, last month. They said that a new study could be operational in six months.

During the hearing on April 25, a University of Arizona researcher said that there was a clinical study in Arizona in 2009 that she had designed. The FDA approved her study in 2011. However, she has yet to receive the clearances required from the drug enforcement agencies in the federal government to move forward with the study.

She stated that the federal regulatory hurdles are very tough and that it is not expected that the study will be implemented at any point within the next few years.

So far there are 21 states where medical marijuana is legal. If Minnesota passes the bill, that will make the state the 22nd state to make medical marijuana legal.

There is a strong belief among families with children who have chronic seizure conditions that marijuana derivatives will alleviate their seizures. There is strong evidence that the drug has helped children with these conditions.

Some parents are waiting for the legalization of medical marijuana so they can try it. If the results are positive, then they hope that their children can live more normal lives.

The House version of the bill passed one committee early in March, but it stalled in a second committee.

When Governor Mark Dayton accused lawmakers of hiding behind their desks, while he took the backlash from supporters, senate leaders took that as their sign that they needed to schedule hearings on the matter.

Both the Health Commissioner and Dayton contend that too much is unknown about medical marijuana side effects, which is why they have favored the research study over legalization. On the other side of the spectrum are senators that state people need relief immediately. There are many people that are being told to go without, move to other states where it is legal, and there are many committing drug crimes in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and all throughout the state who wouldn’t be otherwise if the drug was legal for medical use.

Those who support the legalization of marijuana state that the side effects of prescription drugs can be more harmful to children than medical marijuana.