Medical marijuana talks continue in Minnesota legislature


It is starting to look like medical marijuana will be legalized in Minnesota, but just how that will look going forward is still up for debate.
A joint House and Senate committee has been charged with coming to an agreement on two different medical marijuana proposals approved by the legislature this year. The Senate plan would create a medical marijuana dispensary program in the state in a much more open program akin to what Colorado has in place.

The House plan is much more restrictive. It limits the conditions allowed and would enroll all participants in research studies by the state health department. Notably, the House plan would not give access to actual plant material to patients. Instead, meds would be dispensed in oils and vaporizable forms.
The smoking of cannabis isn’t allowed under either proposal.
Talks include lowering the number of dispensaries allowed under the Senate plan from 55 to 24 and increasing the number allowed under the House proposal to more than three. The House is also strict on who can access medical cannabis, aiming their bill mostly at people with severe seizure disorders. The Senate plan expands coverage to people with severe pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, severe nausea and chronic wasting.
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has said that he prefers the more conservative House approach specifically because it would keep cannabis out of the hands of the general public. Opponents, including the author of the Senate proposal Sen. Scott Dibble, says the House plan would force patients to drive for hours to access medicine as well as create a monopoly of the industry by granting the growing rights to just one company.
Dibble says that discussions on the bill have become more one-on-one, with lawmakers on both sides trying to convince the other to waiver. Dibble says they will reach an agreement eventually, he just isn’t sure what it will look like for now.
The Minnesota legislature is set to adjourn May 19, 2014.