Medical marijuana bill moving in Senate

Legislation to legalize medical marijuana has cleared another hurdle in the Minnesota Senate.

Members of the State and Local Government Committee advanced the bill today on a divided voice vote.

Unlike previous hearings, the panel focused most of its attention on non-medical aspects of the bill, such as implementation and oversight.

Minnesota Department of Health Assistant Commissioner Aggie Leitheiser  raised concerns about getting rules for medical marijuana use in place as quickly as the bill calls for.

“The timeline for this implementation is very ambitious," she said. "The Department of Health is directed to start issuing cards by July 1, 2015. That date assumes that all the associated development work, such as the rule making, IT development, hiring, reviewing and scoring the applications, etc., will be done in time to begin that process on July 1.”

But Sen. Branden Petersen, R-Andover, said he heard “no compelling reason” for not moving forward with legalization.

“I wholeheartedly support this bill, and I plan to vote for it," he said. "Fundamentally, this bill grants more authority for doctors and patients to make health care decisions that best fit their needs, and that’s what this is all about.”

The medical marijuana bill now moves to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where a hearing is scheduled Wednesday. There’s been no recent activity with the House version of the bill.

Before you keep reading ...

MPR News is made by Members. Gifts from individuals fuel the programs that you and your neighbors rely on. Donate today to power news, analysis, and community conversations for all.