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Medical Marijuana: Minnesota Bill Approved By Second House Panel

Members of a Minnesota House committee Monday voted to approve a medical marijuana bill despite the objections of law enforcement. The House Public Safety and Civil Law Committee approved the bill, HF655, on an 11-8 vote. It has already passed the House Health and Human Services Committee and is now headed for the House Finance Committee.

A Senate companion bill passed the Senate Health, Housing and Family Committee a month ago. It currently sits in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The bill would allow seriously ill patients to use marijuana upon obtaining a recommendation from a doctor and registering with the state. But in an effort to address law enforcement concerns, the public safety committee amended the bill so that individual patients cannot grow their own supply. Instead, sanctioned nonprofit organizations would be permitted to grow up to 12 plants and 2.5 ounces per patient.

The law enforcement contingent was out in force at the committee hearing. "Immediate and obvious areas of concern include existing conflicts with federal law, the potential for youth access and abuse, and the potential for this action being used as a platform for legalizing marijuana on a larger scale," Mitch Weinzetl of the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association told KARE TV 11 News in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

"Smoking is harmful to the human body in any form, and it's particularly harmful with marijuana, which has significantly more dangerous chemicals than tobacco," said Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom.

But while committee members attempted to ease law enforcement worries by amending the bill as noted above, they seemed more moved by the testimony of patients like Don Haumont, who suffers from liver cancer and other ailments. He told lawmakers only one thing helps: marijuana.

"I ate more, I gained weight, I felt healthier, I felt that I could take care of myself, I could do things," he said. "I could work and be productive." A former California resident, Hauman said he could smoke legally there. "And then when I moved here, it was harder to obtain and the quality was less," he said.

While law enforcement and Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) oppose the bill, it is gathering bipartisan support in the legislature. "It's more of a left and right coming together, which I think is a very good bill and one Minnesota should become the 13th state to pass," said Rep. Steve Sviggum (R-Kenyon), who once opposed such a measure.

Eleven states have working medical marijuana programs. New Mexico is about to become the 12th once Gov. Bill Richardson (D) signs the bill that passed there last week.

"Marijuana" Candy Banned In Georgia

Location: 
Atlanta, GA
United States
Publication/Source: 
WPVI-TV (PA)
URL: 
http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/story?section=bizarre&id=5135620

Bill to tax illegal drugs stalls in House committee

Location: 
Little Rock, AR
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Morning News (AR)
URL: 
http://www.nwaonline.net/articles/2007/03/21/topics/assembly07/032107lrlegdrugtax.txt

Medical marijuana: Governor calls bill 'right thing to do'

Location: 
NM
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Santa Fe New Mexican
URL: 
http://www.freenewmexican.com/news/58689.html

UMD: Senators poised to wage pot fight

Location: 
College Park, MD
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Diamondback (MD)
URL: 
http://media.www.diamondbackonline.com/media/storage/paper873/news/2007/03/16/News/Senators.Poised.To.Wage.Pot.Fight-2778059.shtml

Under bill, medical-marijuana users could be fired

Location: 
OR
United States
Publication/Source: 
Statesman Journal (OR)
URL: 
http://159.54.226.83/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070315/LEGISLATURE/703150336/1042

New Mexico Set To Become 12th Medical Marijuana State

First it passed the Senate and died in the House. Then, at the urging of Gov. Bill Richardson, New Mexico's Senate folded medical marijuana into a related bill to permit topical use. Yesterday evening the bill passed the House 36-31. It must return to the Senate for consideration of a minor change that occured in the House, but given strong support there and the assurance of the Governor's signature, I believe it's safe to say we're looking at our 12th medical marijuana state.

Congratulations to our friends at the Drug Policy Alliance who've worked extremely hard to make this possible. Also worthy of recognition is New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson himself, who pulled out the stops to protect patients in his state.

Of course, every step towards protecting medical marijuana patients is an important victory, but it is particularly notable that Richardson championed this bill while exploring a bid for the presidency. Richardson is a calculating politician who's not known for taking risky positions. Suffice to say, he ain't exactly Dennis Kucinich.

Richardson's willingness to stand up for patients at this time speaks volumes to the growing political viability of medical marijuana policy reform.

Update: Boston Globe looks at the political implications of Richardson's stance on medical marijuana and concludes that it's not a big deal.

"I don't see it as being a big issue," he said. "This is for medicinal purpose, for ... people that are suffering. My God, let's be reasonable," he said.

It shouldn't be a big deal, but it is. With so many problems here and abroad, our government still finds resources to generate controversy over this. It's obscene.

Location: 
United States

Medical Marijuana: Minnesota Bill Approved by House Committee

The Minnesota medical marijuana bill, HF 655 is on the move. In the bill's first House committee test, the Health and Human Services Committee Tuesday passed the bill on an 8-6 vote. It now heads for the House Public Safety and Civil Justice Committee.

A companion bill is the Senate is also moving. That legislation passed the Senate Health, Housing and Family Security Committee on February 19 and is now before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Rep. Thomas Huntley (DFL-Duluth), lead sponsor of the House bill, hailed the vote as a victory for humane, common-sense legislation. "Politicians in St. Paul should trust physicians to know what's best for their patients," he said.

Among those who testified in support of the bill was Shannon Pakonen, whose son was pulled out of class and interrogated about his medical marijuana use by schoolteachers earlier this week. Pakonen went public with his medical marijuana use by testifying about it before a Senate committee about how he uses it to treat involuntary tics related to his Tourette's Syndrome.

"My son should not have to be treated like a criminal on the basis that he is my son," Pakonen testified, adding that this incident is precisely why Minnesota needs a medical marijuana law to protect patients and their families from harassment.

With both the House and Senate versions of the medical marijuana bill moving, and a new bill in New Mexico on the way to the desk of a governor who pushed to get it there, Minnesota could be on the way to becoming the 13th state to recognize medical marijuana. It's already the law in Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

Second Time Around, House Okays Medical Marijuana

Location: 
Santa Fe, NM
United States
Publication/Source: 
The New Mexican
URL: 
http://www.freenewmexican.com/news/58547.html

NM: House approves medical marijuana bill

Location: 
Santa Fe, NM
United States
Publication/Source: 
KOBTV
URL: 
http://www.kobtv.com/index.cfm?viewer=storyviewer&id=31024&cat=NMTOPSTORIES

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