A bill that would legalize marijuana for medical use has been debated and tweaked since it was first introduced late last spring. But the one thing that's held steady is popular support.
Further proof came last week when KSTP-TV released the results of polling conducted through SurveyUSA. The research firm asked 543 registered voters whether medical marijuana should be legal and found overwhelming support: 68 percent of Minnesotans said yes and 24 percent said no.
The results mirrored two other surveys conducted last year by Public Policy Polling and St. Cloud State University. (The Star Tribune concluded in February that only a slight majority of Minnesotans -- 51 percent -- were on board.)
The KSTP survey did not compare answers based on political parties, but the St. Cloud Survey did. Pollsters there found that 86 percent of Democrats liked the idea of docs prescribing pot to patients with qualifying illnesses. That means Gov. Mark Dayton -- who long ago promised to veto anything cops and prosecutors didn't like -- is in disagreement with almost his entire party. In fact, the DFL put the issue on its official agenda back in 1992.
However, the KSTP survey did confirm what all the other surveys until now have said -- that Minnesotans are squeamish about following Colorado and Washington down the path of total legalization. Only 29 percent of those surveyed in our state support recreational marijuana, a figure that's well below the national panorama. Slightly more than half of all Americans, according to a 2013 Pew Research study, endorse marijuana for whatever-purpose-who-cares.
Legislators have just over a month to pass something Dayton could sign into law or else drop the issue for another year. Next week, when the House resumes after the Easter/Passover break, Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington) is expected to push the House version of the bill again as an amendment to a wide-reaching health bill. Also at that time, the Senate intends to resume discussions of medical marijuana in committee.