Minneapolis, MN: The Minnesota House Ways and Means Committee approved a medical marijuana bill without debate in a 13-4 vote on Wednesday, which will now head to the House floor for debate and vote.
Senate File 345 was passed by the Minnesota Senate last year. As Minnesota has a two-year legislative session, should the House pass this legislation this year, the bill will head to Governor Tim Pawlenty’s desk.
If passed, this legislation would create a program to produce cards for qualifying patients through the Minnesota Department of Health that would permit them to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis, and would also provide for the creation of non-profit organizations to produce up to twelve plants per patient.
The measure has enjoyed sponsorship and support from both sides of the aisle. Rep. Chris DeLaForest (R) says of growing Republican support for medicinal cannabis, "To me, this is the ultimate conservative issue. It’s about keeping government out of the doctor-patient relationship."
Governor Tim Pawlenty (R) has indicated that he will likely veto any medical cannabis legislation that reaches his desk. In the past, Governor Pawlenty has cited the opposition of law enforcement groups as a primary cause of his opposition to the measure. After Wednesday’s vote, Commissioner of Public Safety Michael Campion, a Pawlenty appointee, stated that "[the Governor] hasn’t changed his position since last year."
Since the Senate passed this legislation last year, the American College of Physicians, the largest organization of doctors of internal medicine in the country, released a policy paper in support of legal access to medicinal cannabis for seriously ill patients.
Twelve states already have legalized the medical use of marijuana. Additionally, an initiative in Michigan that would enact medical cannabis laws will be on the ballot this November.
For more information, call Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500. Minnesotan supporters of SF 345 may email their state representative and Governor Pawlenty via: