Gov. Dayton proposes replacing medical marijuana bill with health studies

Last week, Gov. Mark Dayton asked members of his staff to work on a medical marijuana bill that he could possibly sign into law. Here it is -- a seven-page proposal that seems destined to make everyone happy except the actual supporters of medical marijuana.

Rather than green light a distribution system for a range of qualifying patients, Dayton's people are advocating that $2.2 million be pumped into research of CBD -- the non-psychoactive compound in marijuana that has been so effective in controlling infantile seizures.

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That means Minnesota children suffering from Dravet syndrome would be the only patients allowed access to marijuana through clinical trials. Nowhere in the proposal are chemo or AIDS patients even mentioned. Plus there's nothing about using marijuana outside of the Mayo Clinic.

The governor's proposal also calls for a health-impact study that draws on the "concerns identified by community representatives and the experience of other states with current medical cannabis programs." Those representatives would make up a 21-person advisory council and include pols, patients, caregivers, counselors, one prosecutor, and three cops. Public health commissioner Ed Ehlinger would be tasked with monitoring the research and consulting with the commissioners of public safety and human services before issuing reports to the legislature.

In a statement sent to City Pages, Ehlinger noted:
This approach would allow us to address the problems of our most vulnerable patients -- our children -- and help us find safe and effective treatment consistent with the high standards of Minnesota's nation-leading medical care system.
Jaime Tincher, the governor's chief of staff, also released the following statement:
The administration is considering ideas that could pass during this legislative session. It is my understanding that key stakeholders in the law enforcement and medical communities -- including the Mayo Clinic -- would support and advocate for the approach we are considering.
Truth is, Minnesota already has a medical marijuana research program on the books. It's called the THC Therapeutic Research Act, which was passed in 1980, but it never received funding or the support of the federal government. It thereby never benefited a single patient.

Supporters of medical marijuana plan to sit on the governor's proposal for the weekend before making any public statements.


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