Minnesota senators introduced a bill last Monday to allow terminal and chronically ill patients to use marijuana without fear of state prosecution. Meanwhile, a New Mexico bill that has made it to the brink of passage in the last two years is moving again.
In Minnesota, SF345 is sponsored by state Sen. Steve Murphy (DFL-Red Wing), who told reporters he warmed to the idea after his father died of cancer two years ago after suffering months of intense pain. "We're talking about quality of life issues," said Murphy. "This isn't for everybody. This is another tool in the doctor's toolbox, if the patient feels it's appropriate and they're willing to give it a try."
Under the bill, anyone suffering from a "chronic or debilitating disease" would be able to qualify for a registration card. Registered patients or caregivers could possess up to 12 plants or 2.5 ounces of marijuana. Similar bills have been introduced the past two years in Minnesota, but have gone nowhere.
It's a slightly different picture in New Mexico, where in the past two years, a medical marijuana bill has made it to the very brink of passage only to be derailed largely for reasons having much to do with legislative politics and little to do with medical marijuana. This year, SB523, the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use of Medical Marijuana Act, is again rolling.
The bill passed its first legislative hurdle last week when it sailed through the Senate Public Affairs Committee despite the objections of law enforcement. But while New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) last year publicly supported the bill, this year, as he embarks on a run for the Democratic presidential nomination, he has been silent. Health Department spokespersons at a hearing on the bill declined to take a position either for or against.