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Medical Marijuana: Bill Introduced in Minnesota, One to Come Tuesday in South Dakota

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #569)
Drug War Issues

With the number of medical marijuana states growing at the rate of one a year, and with Michigan last November becoming the first state in the Midwest to embrace therapeutic cannabis, two Upper Midwest state legislatures are about to grapple with the issue -- again. A bill was introduced last week in the Minnesota legislature, and one will be introduced next week at the South Dakota statehouse.

In Minnesota, the Medical Use of Marijuana Act, SF 97, would allow patients with a physician's approval and who have registered with the state to grow up to 12 plants and possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana, or to obtain that same amount from a state-regulated nonprofit. To be eligible, an individual must suffer from one of a long list of "debilitating medical conditions," including cancer, glaucoma, AIDS wasting syndrome, Hepatitis C, and MS.

The bill is nearly identical to legislation that last year passed the state Senate, but stalled in the House after Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) threatened to veto it. Pawlenty said he would veto any medical marijuana bill opposed by law enforcement.

This year's bill includes support from members of Pawlenty's party. Two Republicans are coauthors, and three more have signed on as cosponsors. Similar bipartisan support is expected in the House when a companion bill will be introduced next month.

That's not surprising given the broad popular support for medical marijuana among the Minnesota electorate. In a KTSP/SurveyUSA poll conducted last May just after Gov. Pawlenty's veto threat, 64% supported medical marijuana. Even 53% of Republicans did, something for Pawlenty and GOP legislators to keep in mind.

In neighboring South Dakota, Bob Newland of South Dakotans for Safe Access has reported that a medical marijuana bill will be filed next Tuesday by state Rep. Gerald Lange (D-Madison), with a hearing set for the following Monday.

Another Democrat, then Rep. Ron Volesky (D-Huron) introduced a medical marijuana bill in 2001, but it went nowhere, being deferred until "the 41st day" of the 40-day session. In 2006, South Dakota suffered the ignominy of becoming the only state to defeat an initiative that would have legalized medical marijuana. That effort came close, but ultimately fell short with 48% of the vote.

The South Dakota bill will have at least two cosponsors, Reps. Ed Iron Cloud (D-Porcupine) and Martha Vanderlinde (D-Sioux Falls), a registered nurse. While the odds are against this bill passing, the effort may help Newland lay the groundwork for another try at the initiative process in 2010.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Anonymous (not verified)

Except for 12 years where I lived in New York City, I have spent my life in Iowa. Everything happens in the Midwest 10-20 years after it happens on either coast. I surf waves of nausea from mild to severe every hour of every day due to Diabetic Neuropathic Gastroparesis, a liflong disease. There is no drug in today's pharmacopoeia that safely controls chronic nausea and vomiting except for Marijuana. Inhaled Marijuana vapors/smoke gives immediate relief of chronic nausea with virtually no ill side effects. Don't believe me? Just ask any doctor. I have been on Marinol for years, at best it is an extremely expensive placebo, it is worthless. Since I can't afford to move I am willing to face arrest, prosecution, imprisonment, forfeiture of money and property just to control the symptoms of a lifelong disease. What a cruel and inhumane country we live in. Obama seems to be turning into a chicken, I mean what would happen if the first black president legalized even just Medical Marijuana? All the people would say it is only because he is black. Come on Obama let science determine Marijuana's position in medicine not ignorant politicians. Good Lord how dumb is that!!!

Fri, 01/23/2009 - 5:48pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

"Midwest 10-20 years after it happens on either coast"

Usually, but when it comes to Medical Cannabis, a resounding 63-percent of Michigan voters -- that's 2,557,410 people!! -- voted "yes" on Proposal 1, which removed state penalties for registered patients to buy, grow and use small amounts of marijuana.

So, I think the people of the mid-west are light-years ahead of most of their elected officials, on the subject of Medical Cannabis.

In Minnesota, the people are also in favor of medical marijuana, but it seems behind-the-scenes police union forces and far-right media sources are more powerful than Medical Fact and the Will of the People.

I witnessed large chunks of valid medical information on medical marijuana deleted from several MN media outlets; and I witnessed opponents resort to lying, distorting and obfuscation to kill this proposal last year. And much of the media coverage was so wildly biased it was truly sickening.

Fri, 01/23/2009 - 6:42pm Permalink

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