Medical marijuana supported by vast majority of Minnesotans, but won't be legalized this year

For those wanting to use marijuana medicinally, it's black market or bust until next year at the earliest.
For those wanting to use marijuana medicinally, it's black market or bust until next year at the earliest.

A survey conducted by Public Policy Polling earlier this month found that nearly two-thirds of Minnesotans support medical marijuana. But don't expect to see pot prescriptions written in the state anytime soon.

SEE ALSO: Minnesota law enforcement's last word on pot: "We do not support legalization for any purpose"

Heather Azzi, political director of a pro-medical marijuana group named Minnesotans for Compassionate Care, says her organization won't push for a medical marijuana bill this session, and it's not because her membership is high and lazy.

"We haven't been working on the issue in the last three years in Minnesota because we didn't have the funding to do so, frankly," Azzi told MPR. "We needed to get some time to educate all the new legislators, to bring the issue back up and we've had a lot of meetings behind the scenes just to get the language worked out perfectly."

Expect a Minnesotans for Compassionate Care to make a strong push for a medical marijuana bill next year, Azzi added.

Believe it or not, Minnesota is actually less supportive of medical marijuana than the nation as a whole. According to a CBS poll conducted last November, 83 percent of Americans support "allowing doctors to prescribe small amounts of marijuana for patients suffering from serious illnesses." By comparison, 65 percent of Minnesotans support "changing the law in Minnesota to allow people with serious and terminal illnesses to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it."

Even if the legislature approves a medical marijuana bill next year, it might be a moot point. Asked about medical marijuana in December, Governor Dayton said: "I don't think we need another drug operating in our society." The Marijuana Policy Project recently characterized Dayton's marijuana stance as "no more favorable" toward legalization than former Gov. Tim "bong water is a controlled substance" Pawlenty, who vetoed a medical marijuana bill passed by the legislature back in 2009.

Medical marijuana is one thing, but we encourage Minnesota legislators to think more ambitiously. After all, the electronic pulltab revenue that was supposed to fund the Vikings stadium is falling far short of projections. Doesn't sound like anything taxes on Marlboro Greens couldn't fix, right?

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