Last-minute attempt to vote on Minnesota medical cannabis fails, vote delayed at least two weeks


Minnesota state capitol.

At one point yesterday it looked as though the Minnesota legislature would vote on a medical cannabis bill by the time they adjourned for a two-week Passover/Easter break later today. But now it looks like would-be Minnesota medical marijuana patients are going to have to wait at least two weeks before the issue gets picked up again.

Despite the efforts of state Rep. Pat Garofalo to tack a medical marijuana amendment onto a larger healthcare bill, the legislature balked and removed the healthcare bill from today’s docket. Garafolo’s amendment would have allowed high-CBD cannabis extracts and other edibles to be produced and sold, but home cultivation wouldn’t be allowed, nor would any form of smokable cannabis.
The original medical marijuana bill sponsored by Rep. Carly Melin is likely not going to make it out of House committee after Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said he wouldn’t support any bill that allowed for marijuana to be smoked.
Interestingly, Dayton — who admittedly isn’t fond of Melin’s bill — called out the legislature on their non-action. He says they have “hidden behind their desks” on the issue. Really, he’s the one making it hard by demanding that law enforcement and medical marijuana activists come to an agreement on a bill before he’ll sign it. That means he assumes that law enforcement has actual incentive or desire to lighten laws that keep their jobs secure.
“It really is the responsibility of the legislature, who’ve stood on the sidelines, except for the authors, while I engaged in this discussion,” Dayton told reporters this week. “They’ve hidden behind their desk for the whole session while I’ve taken this on. And they’ve been glad for the cover. So if they want to vote, let them vote, let’s see.”
Heather Azzi, director of Minnesotans for Compassionate Care, one of the leading advocacy groups for Melin’s proposal, says the delay actually could be a good thing, and rushing the vote could prove detrimental to the cause. That, and she implied that Dayton clearly needs some more education on the subject.
“It’s important that we take more time with it,” she said. “We know that we need the governor’s signature to get a medical marijuana bill enacted in Minnesota.”