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Press Release: After Making History in Senate, Medical Marijuana Bill Poised for House Floor Vote Later This Year

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   
JUNE 1, 2009   

After Making History in Senate, Medical Marijuana Bill Poised for House Floor Vote Later This Year

CONTACT: Bruce Mirken, MPP director of communications ............... 415-585-6404 or 202-215-4205

SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS -- Although the clock ran out before it could be acted on by the Illinois House of Representatives this weekend, medical marijuana legislation is now well positioned for a House floor vote, possibly before the end of the year, advocates said today.

     Within 48 hours of passing the Senate 30-28, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act had already soared through the House Human Services Committee and was ready for its final reading and vote on the House floor. Tax legislation, however, occupied all of the House's time in the session's final hours.

     "This bill gained more and more momentum at every stage of the legislative process, and I think the pace at which it moved is testament to the support it enjoys," said Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), deputy majority leader and chief House sponsor of SB 1381. "Although today's top priority was the tax bill, I think the time has come for Illinois to enact a medical marijuana law. We just need to shore up a few votes before calling this bill to the floor."

     The measure could be brought to the House floor for a vote during the November veto session or when the General Assembly reconvenes in January 2010 for the second half of the current session.

     "Of course I'm disappointed," said Jamie Clayton of Grafton, an AIDS patient who participated in a groundbreaking FDA-approved study proving medical marijuana's efficacy in treating pain caused by nerve damage. "But the fact remains that we made it further than ever before. Hundreds of patients like myself came forward this year to plead with our legislators to enact this law, and we will not give up, ever. As someone who volunteered for a clinical study that proved the benefits of medical marijuana, I've felt the relief it can provide first-hand and learned how it can allow me to cut back on some of the prescription narcotics I have to take. A lot of people need this law, and we're not going away."

     With more than 27,000 members and 100,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit http://MarijuanaPolicy.org.

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Location: 
IL
United States

Press Release: Medical Marijuana Bill Quickly Passes House Health and Human Services Committee

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   
MAY 28, 2009   

Medical Marijuana Bill Quickly Passes House Health and Human Services Committee
Quick Approval Shows Surging Momentum

 

CONTACT: Bruce Mirken, MPP director of communications ............... 415-585-6404 or 202-215-4205

SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS -- In a move whose speed took even supporters by surprise, the House Health and Human Services Committee approved the medical marijuana bill passed by the full Senate yesterday. The committee had approved the House version of the bill earlier in the year, but needed to ok the Senate version, which had received several amendments.

     "I am delighted by the way this legislation has continued to pick up momentum," said Dan Linn, Executive Director of the Illinois Cannabis Patients Association. "Illinois voters overwhelmingly want to protect patients who need medical marijuana, and both houses of the legislature are hearing that message loud and clear."

     Julie Falco of Chicago, who uses medical marijuana to relieve the painful symptoms of multiple sclerosis and who has been advocating for medical marijuana legislation since 2004, said, "I want to personally thank all the members of the committee for listening to the patients who need this medicine and understanding why we don't have time to wait. We don't want to be criminals for simply trying to cope with our illnesses, and I truly believe this will be the year we finally get some relief."

     Swift committee passage is seen as greatly increasing the chances that the full House will act on the measure before the end of the legislative session May 31.

     With more than 27,000 members and 100,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit http://MarijuanaPolicy.org.

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Location: 
IL
United States

Medical Marijuana: New York Bill Wins Senate Committee Vote

With Democrats in control of the New York state Senate, a medical marijuana bill has for the first time been passed by a Senate committee. In previous years, medical marijuana bills had managed to pass in the House, but not in the Republican-controlled Senate.

The bill, S04041, passed the Senate Health Committee Tuesday. It must now pass the Senate Codes Committee before proceeding to a Senate floor vote. The identical House version of the bill, A7542, has been referred from the House Health Committee to the House Codes Committee.

Under the bills, New Yorkers suffering from a "serious condition" can be certified by a physician as benefiting from the use of medical marijuana. It also creates a registry program. Any patient or caregiver registered with the state would be able to possess up to 2 ½ ounces of marijuana and up to 12 plants.

With friendly leadership in both chambers, New York could become the 14th medical marijuana state. But time is running out -- the session has only about a month to go, and leaders have plenty of other issues on their plates.

Both the Drug Policy Alliance and the Marijuana Policy Project have been involved in pushing for the legislation.

Medical Marijuana: Bill Passes Illinois Senate, Heads to House

The Illinois Senate Wednesday approved SB 1381, which would allow seriously ill patients with certain debilitating medical conditions to use marijuana with a physician's recommendation. The measure passed by a margin of 30-28 with bipartisan support. The Senate defeated a similar measure last year.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/illinoisstatehouse.jpg
Illinois State House
Attention now moves to the House, where a companion bill, HB 2514, passed one committee in March. But it is expected that the House will take up the Senate version for debate.

The spring portion of the Illinois legislative session ends after this week, and it is unlikely the House will act before that. But the legislature reconvenes in the fall.

"I'm very proud of my fellow senators for recognizing modern scientific research, listening to reason, and passing this very sensible bill," said sponsor Sen. William Haine (D-Alton), a four-term former states attorney. "This bill has been amended several times to address the concerns of law enforcement, and the version we're sending to the House would likely be the most strictly controlled medical marijuana law in the country."

Those amendments tightened requirements to participate in the program, lowered the quantities of marijuana allowed, and strengthened the role of the state police in oversight of the program.

"I've been pleading with our legislators to enact this law for five years now," said Julie Falco, a Chicago resident who has lived with multiple sclerosis for over 20 years. "This medicine not only helps me control my muscle spasms and pain, it has also allowed me to discontinue using virtually all pharmaceutical medications, most of which had horrible side effects. I don't just support this bill; I desperately need it to become law."

Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), sponsor of the House version of the medical marijuana bill, said he hopes that the recent Senate victory will give his wavering colleagues in the House enough political cover to send this legislation to the governor for signature. "Opposition to this bill is dwindling because all legitimate concerns have been addressed," Lang said. "I think that there is a true desire in the General Assembly to pass this bill for the patients who need it and I'm confident that my colleagues in the House will give this issue the attention it deserves."

The Marijuana Policy Project and the Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative have both been active in pushing the Illinois bill.

Update: The measure passed the House Health and Human Services Committee unexpectedly quickly Thursday afternoon, increasing the likelihood of a House floor vote before the session ends Sunday.

Law Enforcement: Maryland Governor Signs Bill Requiring SWAT Team Reporting

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley Tuesday signed into law a bill that will require law enforcement SWAT teams to regularly report on their activities. The bill was largely a response to a misbegotten drug raid last July in Prince Georges County in which Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo and his family were doubly victimized -- first by drug traffickers who used their address for a marijuana delivery, then by Prince Georges County police, who killed the family's two pet dogs and mistreated Calvo and his mother-in-law for several hours.

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PolitickerMD cartoon about the raid on the Calvo home
The bill, the SWAT Team Activation and Reporting Act (HB 1267), requires all law enforcement agencies that operate SWAT teams to submit monthly reports on their activities, including when and where they are used, and whether the operations result in arrests, seizures or injuries.

"It is meaningful to us that something good has come out of the terrible tragedy of last summer," Berwyn Heights Mayor Calvo told the Washington Post. "Hopefully, it will be a first step in being able to better police our communities."

The case attracted national outrage and remains politically potent in Prince Georges County, a majority black suburban Washington, DC county that has long suffered from heavy-handed policing. Prince Georges County Sheriff Michael Jackson and the county police have yet to apologize to the Calvos for the raid, although they acknowledge the Calvos were not involved in drug trafficking. The Sheriff's Office investigated itself and unsurprisingly found it had acted appropriately. An FBI probe of the incident may come to different conclusions.

StoptheDrugWar.org, publisher of this newsletter, last week released an online video highlighting the Calvo case and calling for SWAT team use to be limited to emergency situations.

Feature: Minnesota Legislature Passes Medical Marijuana Bill, But Veto Looms

After accepting amendments that significantly narrowed the scope of the medical marijuana legislation before it, the Minnesota legislature passed the bill, SF 97, Monday night. But Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty has vowed to veto the bill, an act which has probably occurred by the time you read these words.

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Minneapolis patient Lynn Rubenstein Nicholson, Minnesotans for Compassionate Care ad
If, as promised, Pawlenty does veto the bill, proponents are not giving up. Instead, they are pondering another shot in the legislature next year, and if Pawlenty remains immune to compromise, they may instead seek a constitutional amendment next year, which would bypass the governor, taking the measure directly to the voters once it passes the legislature again.

The House passed its version of the bill Monday night on a 70-64 vote. The Senate, which had approved its version of the bill last month, accepted the House version, passing it on a 38-28 vote. The vote was largely along party lines, with most Republicans opposing and most Democratic Farm Labor (DFL) members supporting the bill. In neither chamber was the margin of victory large enough to overcome a veto.

The votes came after a day of rancorous debate Monday. Hoping to address law enforcement concerns cited by Pawlenty, the House accepted amendments limiting medical marijuana to terminally ill patients (even excluding cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy) and removing the ability for patients to grow their own plants.

But that wasn't enough for some opponents of the measure. "It is absolutely wrong to refer to this as medical. It is wrong to use the pain and discomfort of sick people to sell this bill," said Rep. Steve Gottwalt (R-St. Cloud).

"The bill will be vetoed no matter what form it leaves here. I'm not willing to give up the war on drugs. If we leave this war more people are going to get sick and die," vowed Rep. Tony Cornish (R-Good Thunder).

If such comments are a normal part of the legislative debate, Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Delano) crossed a line with some of his colleagues. Emmer offered a series of snickering amendments that enraged supporters and led to a heated exchange. One amendment he offered would remove every reference to the words "medical marijuana" and replace it with the word "pot."

http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/files/minnesotacapitol.jpg
Minnesota State Capitol
"We are not talking about medicine. We are not talking about marijuana. Let's call it what it is: 'pot,'" Emmer said. "It is a gateway drug and it has very serious and real physical impact. All we are doing here is legalizing marijuana." He added, "Let's not send the kind of message to the children of the state that marijuana is OK."

One of the bill's authors, Rep. Tom Rukavina (DFL-Virginia), reacted angrily. "It might be cute, but the testimony of the families of people who were helped by medical marijuana are very moving," he said, speaking directly to Emmer. "I don't know if you are trying to be cute, but I think your amendment stinks and I would urge members to vote against it."

"You should be ashamed of yourself," said Rep. Thomas Huntley (DFL-Duluth), recalling the struggles his own family members had with cancer.

Even a Republican colleague chastised Emmer. "We have a very serious issue in front of us," said Rep. Mark Buesgens (R-Jordan). "We are talking about the quality of people's lives at the end of their lives, the sickest of the sick," he said. "It's not a matter we should be joking about on the House floor."

Emmer responded angrily to his critics. "I didn't bring this here to be cute, to make a mockery," he shouted. "You are taking a drug that has serious consequences for young people in the country, so before you start mocking me for doing what I think is right, think about that! This is no joke!"

The "pot" motion failed, but on a roll, Emmer then offered two more amendments, one to remove the word "medical" from the bill and one to replace "medical marijuana" with "authorized marijuana." Those two amendments also failed.

Now, the measure is in the hands of Gov. Pawlenty, who has consistently said he shared law enforcement's concerns about rising crime and drug use if the measure passed. At a Tuesday afternoon press conference, he announced that he would veto the bill. Then he added, "I have great empathy for patients."

"What he said about empathy for the sick is just a lie," said Bruce Mirken, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, whose state affiliate, Minnesotans for Compassionate Care, led the fight for the bill's passage. "You don't show empathy for the sick by throwing them in jail while they're dying."

Overriding a veto isn't a "realistic option," said former Republican state representative Chris DeLaForest, lobbyist for Minnesotans for Compassionate Care. "The votes aren't there."

But the effort will continue next year. "We could come back next session and pass it again and try to address Pawlenty's concerns," said DeLaForest. "I'm always optimistic," he said diplomatically. "The legislature doesn't reconvene until February. There's time to work in the interim."

Pawlenty's refusal to sign onto even the watered down version of the bill that finally passed the legislature suggests his stated reasons for opposing it are questionable, said Mirken. "This bill was narrowed down so drastically that even the flimsiest pretexts that he and law enforcement used have evaporated," he said. "They said it would be rife with abuse, but this bill as passed is limited to terminal patients who would have to get their marijuana from a state-licensed dispensary. A lot of suffering and deserving patients would have been left out, but in regards to a coherent reason to veto this, there is none."

Pawlenty is being talked about as a potential 2012 Republican presidential candidate, Mirken noted. "One can only assume that this veto is about politics," he said. "This is a guy with political ambitions who thinks he needs to stay on the right side of law enforcement to advance his career. It's a shame he is willing to sacrifice patients on the altar of his ambition."

Blocked by a recalcitrant governor, Minnesota medical marijuana proponents are considering an end run around him next year. Under Minnesota law, the legislature can bypass the governor by voting for a constitutional amendment to allow medical marijuana use. If such a measure passes the legislature, it would then go directly to a popular vote. With support for medical marijuana at high levels in Minnesota, proponents believe the measure would pass.

If DeLaForest is optimistic, he's also pragmatic. Noting that Pawlenty has proven immune to even the most tightly drawn legislation, DeLaForest said a constitutional amendment was a possibility. "That would be drafted in bill form and would have to pass the legislature, but the governor is essentially written out of the process," he said. "It goes directly onto the ballot for our next election, and medical marijuana is polling at 64% here."

"We have indications that some of our legislative supporters are willing to go that route," said Mirken. "We would certainly support a constitutional amendment at this point. It's sad that we have to, but if that's what it takes, that's what it takes."

Medical Marijuana: Rhode Island House Passes Dispensary Bill

A bill that would allow for the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries passed the Rhode Island House Wednesday, paving the way for a showdown with Republican Gov. Donald Carcieri, an opponent of medical marijuana. The state Senate passed its version of the bill last month. Now, the two chambers must go through the formality of approving each other's bills. Then the bill will go before the governor.

"To go through cancer, or to go through a debilitating disease is extremely, extremely hard," said Rep. Thomas Slater (D-Providence), the bill's sponsor and a cancer patient himself. "One day you might feel great, the next day you may have pain all over your body... This bill gives people a safe haven to get help, to get medical marijuana."

Rhode Island lawmakers overrode a Carcieri veto three years ago to make medical marijuana legal in the state. But since then, patients have complained that the measure provided only limited access to marijuana. This year's bill, H5359, addresses that concern by providing for the creation of state-regulated "compassion centers" or dispensaries.

A similar bill passed the Senate last year, only to die in the House. Gov. Carcieri vetoed a compromise measure that would have set up a study commission on the dispensary issue. This year, the measure passed both houses by margins that strongly suggest lawmakers have the votes to override any veto attempt by the governor.

The House leadership appears ready to try an override if necessary. "I would hope that the governor wouldn't veto it, and look at the broader issues raised," said House Majority Leader Gordon Fox (D-Providence). "But if he does I think we have the votes to override and I would advocate doing that."

Leading the push for the bill was the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition (RIPAC), working with the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). Their and the legislature's work is not quite done, but they're almost there.

Marijuana: Connecticut Decriminalization Bill Dead in Water Following Arrest of Activist

A bill that would have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana is effectively dead after it was filibustered by a key opponent in the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday. With an early afternoon deadline for committee action Tuesday, Sen. Toni Boucher (R-New Canaan) railed against the bill until the deadline had passed.

"This legislative body is proposing to take a substance that is proven to be unhealthy and dangerous and illegal -- schedule one drug, still so at the federal level -- putting us in direct contrast. And slap the hand of one who uses it just like another parking ticket," Boucher said. "This is just a minor step in a long progression," she added, calling marijuana a gateway drug.

The bill, SB 349 would have made the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana an infraction with a maximum $250 fine. It was supported by the legislature's Democratic leadership and the advocacy groups Efficacy and A Better Way Foundation.

While the bill appeared poised to pass last week, Boucher garnered some sympathy and attention after an officer in the newly formed Connecticut state NORML chapter got himself arrested for allegedly threatening her in an email message. Chapter vice-president Dominic Vita, a 28-year-old veteran of the Iraq war who testified in favor of the bill earlier this year, sent an e-mail in which he said he was about to "go postal" on Boucher. He was arrested on disorderly conduct charges Friday.

While national NORML quickly closed down the Connecticut chapter, the incident had fellow Republicans rallying to Boucher's defense. Connecticut NORML did not play a leading role in pushing for marijuana reform in the state -- it was only a month old -- but the incident was grist for the media mill over the weekend.

In comments posted to a local talk show host's blog, family members of Vita said he showed "poor judgment" in venting his feelings in that manner in an e-mail, but criticized the media's portrayal of it. Vita intended the e-mail to go to a friend and colleague, they explained, but accidentally used "reply" instead of "forward," sending it to the state's legislative "bill-tracker" reporting service instead. The e-mail was written in reaction to an unfavorable amendment Boucher had filed to the decrim bill, which Vita felt would prevent patients from benefiting from it. The staff person who received the e-mail forwarded it to the Capitol Police.

The talk show host, Shelly Sindland, wrote that she was "shocked" and that Vita had been "very articulate and polite" when he appeared on her show.

Feature: Medical Marijuana at the Statehouse -- The State of Play

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medical marijuana hearings, Minnesota Senate (the uptake.org via mnstories.com)
Medical marijuana is now legal in 13 states, and by year's end it could be legal in several more. Legislatures in at least 19 states are, have, or will be considering medical marijuana bills this year, and while in most of them efforts are just getting off the ground or stand little chance of passing this year, significant progress has already been made in at least five states and bills are just a handful of votes and a governor's signature away from passage.

More broadly, medical marijuana has become part of the legislative landscape. It is now either the law of the land or under consideration in more than 30 states. Most of the states where it is not on the political agenda are in the South. On the West Coast, it's a done deal; in the Rocky Mountain states, half are already there; in the Midwest, progress is slow but ongoing; and in the Northeast, the issue has been red hot in recent years.

Here's what things look like right now, followed by some discussion below. Note that this is the Chronicle's assessment, based on legislative histories and the analyses of the people we talked to below, among others:

States where a bill was introduced and is already dead:

Iowa
Kansas
South Dakota

States where bills have been in play, but are unlikely to pass this year:

Alabama
Connecticut
Massachusetts
Missouri
Ohio
Tennessee
Texas

States with bills either just introduced or not introduced yet, but promised, and thus unlikely to pass this year:

Delaware
Idaho
Pennsylvania
Wisconsin

States with the best chance of passage this year:

Illinois
Minnesota
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New York
Rhode Island

"There are a couple of states where we are very close," said Dan Bernath, assistant communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, which is involved in all the states most likely to see a bill pass this year. "Medical marijuana activists are used to having their hearts broken in state legislatures, but there's a very good chance we will see something pass this year."

In Illinois, companion House and Senate bills are awaiting floor votes, but MPP reports that "they do not have enough committed 'yes' votes to be sent to the governor for approval." A similar bill was defeated in the Senate two years ago, but the House has never had a floor vote on it.

In Minnesota, the House version of the medical marijuana bill passed its final committee hurdle on Tuesday and heads for a floor vote. The Senate has already approved its version. But Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty has "concerns" and has threatened a veto.

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Jim Miller at Coalition for Medical Marijuana-New Jersey event
In New Hampshire, a medical marijuana bill easily passed the House in March and was amended and passed by the Senate last month, but Democratic Gov. John Lynch has "serious concerns" and said the Senate version is "unacceptable." The House has voted not to accept the Senate amendments and is calling for a conference committee to craft final language that could be acceptable to the governor.

In New Jersey, a medical marijuana bill passed the Senate in February, but has languished in the House, where it is stuck in committee. But a hearing will take place later this year, and the bill could move forward after that.

In New York, identical bills have been introduced in both the Assembly and the Senate. The House passed a bill last year, but it went nowhere under then Republican Senate leadership. Now, with both houses under Democratic control and a friendly Democratic governor, the bill has a real chance.

In Rhode Island, which has an existing medical marijuana program, a bill that would establish "compassion centers" for distributing it to qualified patients passed the Senate in April and is awaiting action in the House.

"This is a crucial time for a lot of bills we have in play," said Bernath, citing the far advanced bills in Minnesota and New Hampshire, both of which face reluctant governors. "In New Hampshire, we've passed both the House and Senate, and now the House is working to address some of the governor's concerns while still crafting a bill that will work with patients."

In Minnesota, Bernath noted, Gov. Pawlenty has opposed medical marijuana. "The governor has expressed concerns in the past, and our supporters in Minnesota have been working hard to address those," he said. "The governor has had the opportunity to get educated on medical marijuana over these past few years, but continues to say he sides with law enforcement. But law enforcement's credibility has been eroding, so there's some reason to hope the governor will come around."

In New Jersey, where the Drug Policy Alliance, MPP and NORML have a played a role, it may just be a matter of time. "It's headed for the Assembly Health Committee for a hearing, perhaps in June, but maybe in the fall," said Ken Wolski, director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana-New Jersey. "It really depends on the chairman of the committee, Dr. Herb Conaway (D-Delran). We've been in contact with him, but the problem is all the assemblymen are up for election in November, and they're nervous about what they consider a controversial medical marijuana bill. If not in June, it could be after the election."

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Rhode Island patient activist Rhonda O'Donnell, at DC protest
The assemblymen are mistaken if they think medical marijuana is controversial, said Wolski. "There is positive political capital in supporting medical marijuana -- it polls better than any of those legislators," he said. "Any legislator who puts his reelection chances ahead of suffering patients probably doesn't deserve to be elected anyway."

"New Jersey is going to be a long slog, it could go either way, but it looks like they'll sit on it through September, which gives both sides plenty of time to lobby," said NORML's Allen St. Pierre. "But with Gov. Corzine saying he will sign it; that gives it greater impetus, so I think New Jersey will end up with patient protection laws."

As for New York, the political stars could now be aligning, said St. Pierre. "It's not clear how far this will progress, but as in New Jersey, it's one of those rare times where the governor has effectively said he will sign a medical marijuana bill, and that helps."

Like New Jersey, New York has been the subject of years of work by DPA in Albany, and MPP has a hired lobbyist stalking those halls. "In both cases, there have been people working this for five to seven years," said St. Pierre.

"Things have never looked better in New York," said MPP's Bernath. "In the past, the problem was the Republican-controlled Senate, but now it's the Democrats in charge, and we have a lot of confidence that this will get through the Senate. The Assembly is already very supportive."

The state legislative process is agonizingly and frustratingly slow, but medical marijuana has already proven to be an issue that can win at the statehouse and not just at the ballot box. In 2009, only 13 years after California voters approved the first state medical marijuana law, about a quarter of the population live in medical marijuana states. Chances are that before the year is over, that percentage is going to increase.

Press Release: Medical Marijuana Heads to House Floor as Ways and Means Committee Passes Bill, 10-8

Minnesota Cares logo

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   
MAY 12, 2009

Medical Marijuana Heads to House Floor as Ways and Means Committee Passes Bill, 10-8
Passage Sets Up First-Ever House Floor Vote on Medical Marijuana

CONTACT: Former Rep. Chris DeLaForest (R-Andover)......................................................(763) 439-1178

ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA -- The House version of Minnesota's medical marijuana bill, H.F. 292, now moves to the House floor after clearing its final committee last night, passing the Ways and Means Committee, 10 to 8. Companion legislation has already passed the Senate.

     Rep. Tom Rukavina (DFL-Virginia), sponsor of the bill, said, "I have been pleased with the increasing support in the latest committees. Public support for protecting patients who need medical marijuana is overwhelming, and the scientific evidence is clear that this really can help some very sick people. This is going to be the year that Minnesota joins the 13 states that have already acted to protect medical marijuana patients from arrest."

     Medical marijuana bills are now moving forward in a number of states, including Illinois, New Jersey and New Hampshire, where medical marijuana legislation has passed both legislative houses and is awaiting a conference committee to reconcile differences. Rhode Island legislators are presently considering a measure to expand that state's medical marijuana law, first adopted in 2006.

     Thirteen states, comprising approximately one-quarter of the U.S. population, now permit medical use of marijuana under state law if a physician has recommended it. The newest such law was enacted by Michigan voters last November, passing with a record-setting 63 percent "yes" vote.

     Medical organizations which have recognized marijuana's medical uses include the American Public Health Association, American Nurses Association, American Academy of HIV Medicine, and American College of Physicians, which noted "marijuana's proven efficacy at treating certain symptoms and its relatively low toxicity," in a statement issued last year.

####

Location: 
St. Paul, MN
United States

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