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Governor Dayton: Another day, another medical marijuana position

Might the governor reconsider his stance that any bill legalizing smokeable marijuana is a non-starter? Stay tuned!
Might the governor reconsider his stance that any bill legalizing smokeable marijuana is a non-starter? Stay tuned!

During a WCCO radio appearance yesterday, Gov. Mark Dayton characterized the likelihood of any medical marijuana legislation being signed into law this year as between "slim and none." He lamented that "the advocates who want to be able to smoke leaf marijuana... are not interested in carrying [a medical pot bill] forward on a more limited basis."

"We'll work on it next session," Dayton said.

Well, what a difference 24 hours makes.

In a statement released today, Dayton, referring to his "advocates who want to be able to smoke leaf marijuana" remark, says the comment "was in no way intended to refer to victims of terrible diseases or their parents, who I was trying to help. I regret that my words were unclear."

He goes on to express two more regrets -- that his proposal to provide funding for research on marijuana's potential to treat infantile seizures while not legalizing medical marijuana has been rejected, and that he's "been wrongly portrayed as the sole barrier between sufferers and their access to medical marijuana."

"That ignores the concerns expressed by the Minnesota Medical Association, the Minnesota Psychiatric Association, and the state commissioners of Health, Human Services, and Public Safety, and many other authorities on public health and public safety," Dayton says.

Dayton still prefers his aforementioned proposal, but concludes his statement by urging "stakeholders on all sides of this issue to work together on this proposal, agree on a compromise that can pass in the Legislature this session, and provide relief this year to children who will otherwise find none if we instead choose to engage in finger-pointing, and a protracted political debate."

Medical marijuana supporters want the governor to go further and support a bill introduced by Rep. Carly Melin, D-Hibbing, that would allow people suffering from specific debilitating conditions, such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, and epilepsy, to access and use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it. Dayton, citing law enforcement's objections, has adamantly maintained any bill allowing anyone to actually smoke marijuana is off the table this session.

In a statement distributed by Minnesotans for Compassionate Care, Maria Botker, a Clinton woman whose daughter suffers from epilepsy, blasted the governor for saying during the 'CCO interview that medical marijuana supporters' opposition to his proposal is tantamount to opposing a measure that would "would help hundreds of kids that are suffering from epilepsy."

"We informed Governor Dayton that we cannot get behind his unworkable proposal when there is a bill on the table that would actually help our children," Botker says. "He responded by taking to the airwaves to accuse us of opposing legislation that would help our children."

"For Governor Dayton to say he is working in the best interest of my daughter is disingenuous," says says. "For him to say I am working against the best interest of my daughter is reprehensible."

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at arupar@citypages.com.


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