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Minnesota Senate Approves Bill Legalizing Marijuana for Medical Purposes

First Posted: Apr 27, 2014 04:35 PM EDT

What was once a stalled proposal, Minnesota State senator Scott Dibble's bill to legalize medical marijuana was approved yesterday in a 7-3 bipartisan vote, but it still faces opposition by the state's governor, Mark Dayton.

The bill would create what is referred to as "a compassionate and workable medical marijuana program in Minnesota," according to the Marijuana Policy Project. The drug would be made available to medical patients with cancer, epilepsy, extreme chronic pain, and other serious conditions to alleviate symptoms.

But the governor, law-enforcement officers, and two state agency commissioners are opposed to the idea, despite the bill featuring doctor-monitored access to marijuana and 20 other states and the District of Columbia approving medical use. They say there is too little scientific evidence of the drug's benefits.

"This is a really solid, responsible bill," said Sen. Scott Dibble, in this Start Tribune article. "Public opinion is shifting on this issue, and I believe legislative support is shifting in our favor."

Additionally, the Journal of Adolescent Health published a study entitled, "The Impact of State Medical Marijuana Use Legislation on Adolescent Marijuana" which revealed 20 years worth of data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey. The researchers found no difference in marijuana use following a state legalizing it. Dibble believes that marijuana's popularity as well as studies conducted on the drug will help finalize the bill.

The bill would allow for up to 55 medical marijuana shops to be established in Minnesota and have plants professional grown under strict oversight from the Minnesota Department of Health. The marijuana would then be distributed at "alternative treatment centers" because the lawmakers say that "dispensaries" have a negative connotation due to their presence in other states where the drug is distributed for recreational use.

Following the passing of the proposal, Governor Dayton called for a state-funded research project for medical marijuana and its effect on patients with seizure disorders. The same committee that approved Dibble's proposal rejected Dayton's. Dibble's bill will now go to the State and Local Government Committee for approval.

You can read more about the current medical marijuana legislation in Minnesota via this Associated Press article.

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