The Minnesota medical marijuana bill is one floor vote away from passing the legislature, as the House Ways & Means Committee approved it on a 14-9 vote Monday. The bill, HF 655 is a companion measure to SF 345, which passed the state Senate last week.
"I hope the House follows the Senate's lead and, for the sake of Minnesota's seriously ill patients, passes this compassionate bill quickly," said Rep. Tom Huntley (DFL-Duluth).
Under the proposed law, patients with specified chronic debilitating conditions would be able to possess up to 12 plants and 2.5 ounces of marijuana. Patients can designate caregivers to grow for them. Patients must register with the state after obtaining a written recommendation from a physician, registered nurse, or physician's assistant.
But Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) is vowing to veto the measure if it passes, a position that has drawn the scorn of the Minneapolis alternative weekly, the City Pages. In an article referring to Pawlenty as Governor Buzzkill, the weekly called on him to "puff, puff, pass" the bill and chided him for "protecting cancer patients from 'the munchies.'"
The City Pages' scorn notwithstanding, the bill passed the Senate by a narrow margin, and it appears unlikely proponents can muster the numbers to overcome a veto. Still, there remains a chance that Minnesota will this year become the 13th state to embrace medical marijuana, joining Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.