Senate panel strips smoking from medical marijuana bill

Legislation to legalize medical marijuana has cleared another Minnesota Senate committee, but the bill no longer allows smoking.

Members of the Health and Human Services Finance Division advanced the measure today on a divided voice vote. Under the amended bill, approved patients would not be able to smoke marijuana for the treatment of medical conditions, but they could vaporize it.

Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, said he was not thrilled with changing his bill, but he was responding to the concerns of opponents.

“We are protecting the main principles and values that we’re trying to accomplish, the main goals of this bill, which is getting more people access on a limited and restrictive basis to something that will help them,” Dibble said. “It’s important to know that folks can vaporize cannabis and receive, I think, almost the same identical benefits as they would if they were smoking it.”

Another change would prohibit people from other states accessing medical marijuana in Minnesota.

The bill’s next stop is the full Senate Finance Committee.

A separate hearing is scheduled this afternoon on a House bill to allow for clinical trials of medical marijuana.

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