The Minnesota capital on Thursday saw supporters in favor of legalizing marijuana for medical purposes present their plan even though the major debate will have to wait until the coming year.
Minnesotans for Compassionate Care group leaders said that they did not expect any action on the proposal in the current session that will conclude in a few weeks time. They are not expecting any action until the 2014 session. Given the long-standing opposition from Gov. Mark Dayton and other law enforcement groups, the bill could face an uphill push.
The bill describes in detail the quantity of marijuana that an individual is allowed to have in possession, the various health conditions wherein the use of marijuana would be permitted and the rules that medical professionals should adhere to while prescribing medical marijuana. Smoking of marijuana on public transportation, on school grounds, in the presence of a child, while operating school buses, boats, vehicles and other transportation equipment will remain banned.
Rep. Carly Melin, DFL-Hibbing was quoted as saying, “The bill strikes the appropriate balance between compassion, health and safety.” She is hopeful that as the legislation proceeds, she will be able to persuade Dayton to keep an open mind.
Patients will have to procure a special identification card in order to get a prescription for marijuana medicine. The card would carry a fee ranging from $25 to $100. At a time, an individual will be permitted to carry 2.5 ounces of marijuana with him. Cancer, AIDS and glaucoma are among some of the serious illnesses that qualify as debilitating medical conditions wherein marijuana can be prescribed.
Marijuana dispensaries will have to pay a registration fee of around $15,000. The number of dispensaries that can operate in a county will also be restricted depending on the population of the county. In 2009, lawmakers in Minnesota passed a medical marijuana bill. However, the measure was vetoed by the then Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Dayton now opposes the legalization of marijuana saying that medical reasons are very often simply excuses for people to gain access to the drug.
Rep. Bob Barrett, R-Lindstrom also added to this by saying that the state should not boost the use of this drug by making it legal even on medical grounds. He was quoted as saying, “The legalization of medical marijuana in Minnesota would only serve to make this gateway drug more accessible to our younger populations”.