Medical marijuana bill takes another step forward

Medical marijuana
A worker weighs medicinal marijuana at the Alternative Herbal Health Services cannabis dispensary in San Francisco.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A bill to allow the medical use of marijuana in Minnesota has cleared another committee in the state Senate.

The Senate Health and Human Services Budget Division advanced the measure today on a divided voice vote.

Under the bill, doctors could prescribe marijuana to qualified patients for the treatment of a debilitating medical condition.

Sen. Steve Murphy, DFL-Red Wing, the bill's chief author, says patients could buy marijuana from registered suppliers, or they could grow their own. But Murphy said the state would not test the strength of those plants.

"I don't know how you answer the question of content, THC content, of the product without testing every plant that's grown," said Murphy. "I don't think that is a responsible thing for us to do. One, the cost would be astronomical. Two, you don't need to because once again, this is not one of those heavy narcotics that kills people."

The same bill is also advancing in the Minnesota House. But Gov. Tim Pawlenty has said he remains firmly opposed to the measure.