Minnesota wants medical marijuana, but will have to wait until 2014


A Marijuana Policy poll of 600 Minnesota voters underscores the need for medical marijuana reform in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. The poll, conducted earlier this month, shows that 65 percent of Minnesota voters would support changing the law to allow for medical marijuana in that state.

And it wasn’t just a poll of voters getting stoned on college campuses either. The majority of the voters were age 50 or older, with only 18 percent falling within the 18- to 34-year-old category. Thirty-four percent of the people polled identified as democrats, 27 percent as republicans and 39 percent as independent.
Unfortunately, it seems that Minnesotans will have to wait until at least 2014 for any significant legislation. According to TwinCities.com, bills will be introduced next week but they won’t see any action in the legislature this year. Heather Azzi of Minnesotans for Compassionate Care, says that this is merely background work that needs to be taken care of before the real fight begins in the 2014 legislative session.
Minnesota’s most recent attempt at medical marijuana in 2009 was successful up until it hit then governor Tim Pawlenty’s desk, where it was vetoed. Pawlenty is out, but according to the Associated Press, current governor Mark Dayton is not in favor of medical marijuana or recreational marijuana in the land of 10,000 lakes. “As long as law enforcement believes whatever [law]is being proposed is going to make society more dangerous, I’m going to honor their concerns,” Dayton told the AP last December.
Interestingly, 66 percent surveyed said the governor should sign any medical marijuana bills passed by the legislature. That means there were about six people who don’t agree with medical marijuana but would still rather see the governor listen to the elected officials in the state house.
Police associations have also come out strongly against medical marijuana in the past, and don’t show any reason for an about-face anytime soon. Not that voters seem to approve. In fact, only 24 percent of people in the MPP poll said they approve of law enforcement spewing anti-marijuana propaganda.
But there are cracks possibly appearing in the dam. Currently there is a bill (HF508) that would allow for patients to use medical marijuana necessity as a defense in Minnesota courts. It’s a very simple bill, without much description as to what the defense would allow a person. But it’s a step in the right direction. The Minnesota house is also considering a bill that would allow for industrial hemp production in the state. Both bills have been sent to committees for consideration.