Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Minnesota Wants Medical Marijuana

New medical marijuana bill to be proposed next session

After passing the Legislature last year only to have it vetoed by the
governor, supporters of a medical marijuana bill in Minnesota plan to
resubmit a similar bill this year.

Published: 11/09/2009
By Frank Bi

In October, the Obama administration announced that the federal
government will not prosecute users or distributors of medicinal
marijuana as long as they follow state laws, the latest part of a trend
that has seen several states, including Minnesota, take an increased
interest in the issue.

Currently 13 states have legalized marijuana for medicinal use —
last Tuesday, Maine voters decided to extend the state's 10-year-old
medical marijuana law.

In 2008, two-thirds of Michigan voters approved the use of medical
marijuana, and in Wisconsin, legislation is being drawn up for medical
marijuana use there.

The Minnesota Legislature passed a medical marijuana bill this year, but
Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed it.

Brian McClung , a spokesman for Pawlenty, said the governor will only
support a medical marijuana bill if it has the backing of law

The bill's author said he will likely propose it again this spring,
but the controversial bill could still garner more opposition.

"Marijuana is a drug which has dangerous consequences for society
and I don't think it's a wise move to legalize it," Tom
Prichard , president of Minnesota Family Council , said.

Prichard, who testified last year against the bill, believes there are
medical alternatives to smoking marijuana such as Marinol , a pill
composed of active ingredients from marijuana.

But bill author Sen. Steve Murphy , DFL-Red Wing, said these
alternatives are very costly and are not always the best resort.

"Lunch isn't a big deal until you can't eat it," Murphy

Bruce Mirken , spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project also agrees
that medical marijuana is a much more effective form as opposed to

Mirken said there are ways to avoid any possible health risks associated
with the drug.

Medical marijuana users can purchase a machine that "vaporiz es"
it by heating it without using flames. This eliminates tar and other
feared consequences that are connected with smoking marijuana.

Mirken says these vaporizers are often marketed underground.

"It's another example of laws causing harm to people because if
you say it's for medical marijuana, it becomes drug
paraphernalia, " Mirken said.

In any new marijuana bill next session, Murphy said he plans to include
minor tweaks like beefing up security requirements for people who are
growing marijuana.

Murphy and supporters have been looking at medical marijuana bills in
other states and Murphy said they have the basis for a bill that they
will try to pass next session.

Prichard said he has long feared that support for medical marijuana is
only a pretext for efforts to more broadly legalize marijuana.

"That's not why we're in the game," Murphy said. "We
want to provide doctors another tool in the toolbox."

Gregorio Cervantes , vice president of the University of Minnesota's
Students for Sensible Drug Policy chapter, said he believes that not
only should marijuana be legalized for medicinal use, it should also be
legalized for regular consumption.

Cervantes points to the illegal drug trade that has claimed thousands of
lives in the past decade.

By legalizing marijuana and regulating it, Cervantes said he believes
that not only will it take a lot of power away from drug organizations,
but it will also generate tax revenue that can be used for schools or

Quoting Abraham Lincoln, Cervantes said: "'Prohibition goes beyond
the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man's appetite by
legislation and makes crimes out of things that are not crimes .'"

http://www.mndaily. com/2009/ 11/09/new- medical-marijuan a-bill-be- proposed\

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