Medical marijuana advocates are letting voters know how Minnesota’s gubernatorial candidates view their issue, just five days before the election.
The group Minnesotans for Compassionate Care asked five candidates for a commitment to expand the state’s new medical marijuana law next year to include more patients. Republican candidate Jeff Johnson, Hannah Nicollet of the Independence Party, Libertarian Party candidate Chris Holbrook and Chris Wright of the Grassroots Party all signed the pledge. DFL Gov. Mark Dayton did not.
“We’re really very disappointed that he did not sign it,” said the group’s executive director Heather Azzi today at a news conference.
Several medical marijuana patients took turns criticizing the governor for not signing the pledge and for supporting only a limited bill last session. Patrick McClellan of Bloomington said he voted for Dayton four years ago, but he’s not sure he’ll do it again.
“I believe that Gov. Dayton looked to law enforcement and not science when deciding which conditions would be covered by the new program, and because of that, thousands of people will continue to suffer needlessly,” McClellan said.
The group highlighted positions that have been known since the general election ballot was set.
Dayton has said he wants to see the new law fully implemented before considering any expansion. He told reporters today that it’s premature to talk about proposed legislation on any topic.
“I've told every group that wants to talk to me about legislation you’re going to have to wait until after the election,” Dayton said.
Dayton also said no one personally contacted him about signing the pledge. A spokesman for his campaign later said they received the group’s request late Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, Republican candidate Jeff Johnson said that expanding the medical marijuana law is not a priority, but he would support it.
“They came up with something that helps some people, which I think is great," Johnson said. “But it didn’t help enough people. It didn’t help as many people as we could have.”
Johnson stressed that he would want tight controls on an expanded law to prevent it from becoming a back door to recreational use.