The Minnesota Senate Tuesday gave final approval to a medical marijuana bill, passing SF 345 on a narrow 33-31 vote. The vote marks the first time a medical marijuana bill has been approved by a full vote in either House in Minnesota.
Also Tuesday, the House version of the medical marijuana bill, HF 655, overcame one more committee hurdle, passing the House Finance Committee on a 20-14 vote. It should soon be on the way to a House floor vote.
While there are differences between the House and Senate bills, both would essentially set up a system where qualified patients could obtain marijuana to ease their pain and symptoms through nonprofit organizations registered with the state.
"I'm happy the Senate has voted to protect some of Minnesota's most vulnerable citizens from the threat of arrest for trying to alleviate their pain, per the advice of their doctor," said Sen. Steve Murphy (DFL-Red Wing), the bill's lead sponsor. "I'm hopeful we are only a few weeks away from Minnesota becoming the 13th medical marijuana state."
But Minnesota is not there yet. The House must still approve its version of the bill in a final floor vote. And even if it passes and is reconciled with the Senate version, Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R), backed by law enforcement organizations, is vowing to veto it.