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Minnesota Progressively Pending Legislature for Legalization

Minnesota Progressively Pending Legislature for Legalization

Posted by Marijuana Doctors on 10/30/2013 in Medical Marijuana Laws

Prompted by recent Gallup polls revealing a staggering 58% of Americans stand in favor of legalization, medical marijuana advocates are pushing state lawmakers to put pending plans into action by legalizing the use of medical marijuana within the next year for people in need of alternative medicine.

Director of Minnesotans for Compassionate Care, Heather Azzi, said, “We have patients who are using medical marijuana because their doctor has advised it right now.” She went on, “It’s working for them when nothing else has, and these people are subject to arrest and imprisonment for doing nothing more than relieving their suffering.”

This conundrum has caused families around the country to uproot their lives and become medical refugees in states like Washington and Colorado. Dr. Stephen Lankenau was recently given a five-year government grant to study the impact marijuana has among young adults, working to fully understand the “gateway drug” theory. Despite his proposed study encompassing a far greater line of research, adding in the “gateway drug” theory, he noted, is truly what helped him to earn the grant. Because, as best stated by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, ““If you look at studies in the U.S. you come to find that the vast majority of studies were designed to find harm with marijuana, so there wasn’t a lot of emphasis on trying to find benefits…You start to realize this is a medication, one that can work when other drugs don’t work…Every child that has tried cannabis after going through meds to treat epilepsy – has had some benefit. Some have had incredible benefit, off all medications. But it’s hard to study a substance in the U.S. that is illegal. Those studies are hard to do and that is part of the problem.”

Jim Franklin, Minnesota Sheriffs Association Executive Director, has said that despite his group having had a long-standing opposition against medical marijuana, believing that it leads to increased crime and drug abuse while posing issues for the ability of law enforcement to investigate illegal marijuana operations, he will still meet with house bill sponsor, Carly Melin.

“I’ve had over 40 years of law enforcement experience, and I have yet to find drug users that didn’t start off with cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana and then into drug addiction,” said Franklin.

It has been said time and time again that the war on drugs is a war on the American people. Patient stories often become twisted tales involving unprecedented legal action taking place where it otherwise should not. People who need to medicate by way of marijuana are not criminals, and are, more often than not, more concerned with stabilizing their health than fearing law enforcement. Lest we forget it is not marijuana that prompts paranoia and threatens our very rights at citizens, it is law enforcement.

The true hurdle is of course, coercing state law enforcement officials, sheriffs and attorneys to back the safe access for medical marijuana bill. Back in 2009, Minnesota law enforcement was able to successfully persuade then-Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty to veto the written medical marijuana bill. DFL Gov. Mark Dayton’s spokesperson Matt Swenson said that “the governor will not support any change in current law that does not have the full support of law enforcement.” If each state in the nation had politicians who chose to take this same stance, we would remain unfortunately stagnant in our laws. Medical marijuana wouldn’t stand a chance with the negative stigma not only attached to it, but enforced, majorly due to law enforcement.

As advocates and activists, we know the long and winding road we must walk to fight for our rights as citizens. We have been united, nationally, as we fight for the same rights and opportunities to take our medicine as any other American can. Optimism runs through our veins and we are inspired to keep defending our rights each time we hear another story of one more patient gaining safe access to their medicine.

House bill sponsor Rep. Carly Melin, DLF-Hibbing is planning to meet with local law enforcement representatives in hopes of establishing a common ground between both parties concerns. Admittedly, Melin was not always in favor of medical marijuana. However, after speaking with both patients and medical professionals within the community, her mind was quickly changed. It was not long before she fully became convinced of the relieving medical benefits it can have on seriously ill patients.

“It’s just a matter of showing compassion and allowing doctors and patients to have the option to use medical marijuana,” said Melin. Under Melin’s proposed bill, patients with “debilitating medical conditions,” such as cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, epilepsy and Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder would qualify for the program. Patients would need doctor’s recommendations and would be able to possess 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana, cultivating 12 marijuana plants. The prescriptions would be filled only at state-licensed dispensaries. The bill would limit the number of dispensaries per county to just one, and three within a seven-county metro area.

Tina Liebling, DFL-Rochester, House Health and Human Services Policy Committee Chairwoman, is a co-sponsor of this bill. Liebling has said that while fully aware of law enforcement’s concerns regarding medical marijuana – It is ultimately, in the end, about treating patients.

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