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Medical Marijuana Could be Next Political Battle

Updated: 01/20/2014 6:41 PM
Created: 01/20/2014 6:30 PM KAALtv.com
By: Katie Eldred

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- It's been legalized in 20 states, but will Minnesota be the next to legalize medical marijuana?

Recent polls show that public opinion on pot is changing.

"I spoke to a group of nurses about a month or so ago, and I asked them how many of you support medicinal marijuana, and almost every hand went up," said Representative Tina Liebling.

Rochester Rep. Tina Liebling believes marijuana is not any more dangerous than alcohol.

"Prohibition did not work, I think that it's high time that we legalize marijuana for medical purposes if not for recreational use," said Rep. Liebling.

Rep. Liebling is the co-author of bill that was introduced last session, and that will be brought back up this session, that would legalize marijuana for medical use.

"There are lots of stories about people for whom marijuana is really the only treatment that works for them, for pain, for seizures, for nausea, for help with cancer treatments," said Rep. Liebling.

A 2013 Public Policy Polling reported that 65 percent of Minnesotans support legalizing pot for medicinal use. Between people 18 to 34 years old 87 percent support it.

While marijuana is gaining public support, there are still many that have concerns.

"I think we should look at what's happening on other states, how it's being rolled out," said Senator Carla Nelson.

Senator Nelson says the abuse of other prescription drugs has her worried over what would happen is marijuana became one of them.

"If we can't control drugs in hospital settings how are we going to control marijuana in other settings," said Sen. Nelson.

Governor Mark Dayton has said he will only sign the bill if there is support from law enforcement, who've historically opposed it.

But Liebling says with the patients marijuana could help, the pros outweigh the cons.

"I think overwhelmingly my constituents who understand this support it, of course there are those that have concerns about addiction and these are legitimate, but I believe medical marijuana would be a great benefit far more than a detriment to the state of Minnesota," said rep. Liebling.

President Obama stated this weekend that he feels marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol and that it could even be considered less dangerous. He said he doesn't support it as a good habit, but said that it is no different that smoking cigarettes.