MN Legislature to Tackle Medical Marijuana

Created: 03/04/2014 5:36 PM
By: Brianna Long

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- Medical marijuana is a hot button issue in Minnesota, and Tuesday, the argument for medical marijuana is being heard by state lawmakers.

The House Health and Human Services Policy Committee, which is chaired by Representative Tina Liebling of Rochester, heard testimony Tuesday evening.

If you remember, Minnesota lawmakers did approve a medical marijuana bill back in 2009. But it was vetoed by former Governor Tim Pawlenty.

Now, the issue is back on the table with HF2382, a bill that, if passed, would permit marijuana for medical purposes.

We asked several local lawmakers about this issue during the first day of the session last week.

"I'm not seeing credible evidence yet as to why medical marijuana is needed. Are there some drugs that aren't serving the needs that medical marijuana does? I haven't seen that information yet," said Senator Carla Nelson.

"Medical marijuana is not a top issue for the caucus, certainly it is a members top issue and is of concern to some people," said Representative Kim Norton.

"The question, I think for all of us will be  whether or not there may be certain situations, in a very, very , controlled bill where a doctor giving a prescription to a patient might be able to access that," said Senator Dave Senjem.

Tuesday, the issue was taken up in the House Health and Human Services Policy Committee. That committee is chaired by Representative Tina Liebling.

"I think it's a health issue, not a social issue. And one that we really ought to grapple with. I think we've learned enough, we've heard enough, and I think it's time to move forward with that," said Liebling.

"You always want to listen to experts in the field. And at this point, neither of them are saying 'we need to legalize marijuana," said Nelson.

Such was the case when we talked to Mayo Clinic's CEO about medical marijuana in February.

"The states and federal governments are at loggerheads on this at the moment. The federal government has not supported research on medical marijuana in about 20 years so we'll see how that all plays out but at the moment we're not active players in that," said Dr. John Noseworthy.

As for whether Governor Dayton would sign this bill, he says it all depends on if law enforcement leaders support it.