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Republican Rep. Pat Garofalo pushing for medical marijuana vote Wednesday [UPDATE]

A vote on the legalization of marijuana for medical use may not happen after all Wednesday.

Two bills on tomorrow's calendar contained amendments laying out a medical marijuana distribution system, but a source inside the legislature tells us that at least one of those bills has been postponed until after Easter break. We're awaiting confirmation on whether the second bill has also been removed from Wednesday's docket.

The news comes on the heels of a press conference Dayton gave this afternoon in which he lamented that legislators "have hidden behind their desks" while he's dealt with the backlash.

"Let them vote," the governor said.

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The Minnesota House is slated to vote Wednesday on a proposal that would create a medical marijuana distribution system for patients, including children, who suffer from chronic and debilitating pain.

On Tuesday, Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington) rerouted an amendment to HF 1818 -- the chief marijuana bill -- that was intended to meet Gov. Mark Dayton and other critics halfway, and attached it to two other wide-reaching health bills on Wednesday's calendar.

See also:
New study undercuts law enforcement claims about medical marijuana

Last month, the governor's staff suggested replacing a distribution system with a $2.2 million study centered at the Mayo Clinic. In turn, the advocates of medical marijuana crafted the proposal that Garofalo is bringing to the House floor, which adds a civil penalty for anyone caught smoking medical marijuana and prohibits home cultivation. It also mandates tighter controls over what are now being called "alternative treatment centers" rather than dispensaries.

The medical marijuana bill stalled last month on its way through committee, even though advocates were confident they had the number of pols to push it onto the governor's desk.

"The families who could best benefit from cannabis medication deserve a vote," Garofalo says, adding that there's still further room for compromise. "I'm just trying to do everything I can to keep the bill moving forward. We're starting to run out of time."

 

Although medical marijuana has overwhelming support by Minnesotans , Dayton made a promise to the state's top cops and prosecutors back in 2010 to veto any reform that did not have their blessing. He remains skeptical of any immediate marijuana reform but has entertained a bit of bargaining with advocates.

They've also stepped up pressure through major media outlets. A second TV ad criticizing the governor is expected to hit airwaves Tuesday night and make the rounds on nationally syndicated shows Wednesday morning. The new one features Pat McClellan, a Bloomington man who suffers from a rare form of muscular dystrophy.

"I am a patient, not a criminal," McClellan says. "We deserve better. Minnesota deserves better."

The ads were produced by the Washington, DC-based Marijuana Policy Project, which also initiated a petition that calls on the governor, despite his assertion to the contrary, to quit standing in the way of medical marijuana. The petition has more than 6,000 signatures so far.

h/t -- Bluestem Prairie

-- Follow Jesse Marx on Twitter @marxjesse or send tips to jmarx@citypages.com


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