The Minnesota House approved medical marijuana legislation Friday with overwhelming support that cut across party lines.
It’s passage, with a 86-39 vote, leaves Minnesota poised to become the 22nd state with a medical marijuana program. What that program will look like is still up in the air. A conference committee is now tasked with hashing out two very different bills before dropping the final decision on Gov. Mark Dayton.
The House version, lead by Carly Melin (DFL-Hibbin), is far more conservative. Melin acknowledges that the proposal wasn’t as broad and inclusive as some had hoped, “but I can’t take an all-or-nothing approach this session,” she says. “We need to provide relief for these families now.”
The Senate bill, which was approved Wednesday and spearheaded by Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis), has neither the support of law enforcement nor the governor, but it saves both the state and patients more money, and provides a wider reaching distribution system for a great number of people in pain. It passed with overwhelming support on Wednesday, despite the efforts of some boring old biddies to paint marijuana as a mysterious substance and a killer.
On Friday, the Reefer Madness baton passed to Rep. Bob Barett (R-Lindstrom), a marketing executive at Hazelden Foundation treatment center. In support of an amendment that would have prevented the public health commissioner from approving other marijuana delivery methods, Barrett gave the example of a Wyoming student who, in April, ate a few too many marijuana cookies, then fell to his death from a balcony in Denver.
Read more on that over at the Minneapolis City Pages.
So far, Dayton has suggested that he’s more inclined to sign the House version, which Rep. Carly Melin (DFL-Hibbing) reshaped into an “observational study,” over the Senate version — a prospect that alarms many patients and activists.
Those concerns were highlighted Sunday by Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis). In a letter to Dayton and Melin, Dibble laid out how his bill — which underwent extensive review and revision through the committee process — would reach more Minnesotans in need and cost less while balancing the demands of public safety officials.
“Paradoxically,” Dibble writes, “law enforcement is ‘neutral’ on the House bill, while standing opposed to the Senate measure, despite the fact that the Senate measure is far superior in addressing their ostensible concerns.”
More on Dibble’s take, click over to The Blotter.