By Steve Elliott
Delegates at the Independence Party of Minnesota's state convention in St. Cloud on Monday adopted a party platform which calls for the legalization, taxation and regulation of marijuana.
"Party members spoke to allowing for personal choice and individual responsibility throughout the convention," said Kyle Lewis, executive director of the Independence Party, reports Tom Scheck at MPR News.
No cannabis law reform bills were introduced in this year's session of the Minnesota Legislature, but there is likely to be a push next year to allow marijuana for medical purposes, MPR reports.
The Independence Party has held major party status in Minnesota since IP candidate Jesse Ventura was elected governor in 1998.
(Photo: Cannabis Fantastic)
Bill with maximum number of House and Senate sponsors would allow Minnesotans with serious illnesses to access and use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it
By Steve Elliott
A bipartisan group of Minnesota state lawmakers joined patients and advocates for a news conference at the state capitol on Thursday to announce the introduction of a bill that would allow people with serious illnesses to access and use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it.
Rep. Carly Melin (DFL-Hibbing) is introducing the bill in the House of Representatives (HF 1818), and Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis) is introducing the companion bill in the Senate (SF 1641). Both bills have the maximum number of sponsors allowed -– 35 in the House, including 12 committee chairs, and five in the Senate, including two committee chairs.
"Medical marijuana made life bearable for my daughter in her final few months," said Joni Whiting of Jordan, who attended the news conference. Her daughter, Stephanie, used medical marijuana to relieve the extreme pain and nausea associated with cancer and chemotherapy.
"She would have tried using medical marijuana immediately after her doctor recommended it, but we feared the legal consequences and she suffered for months before we decided it was worth the risk," Whiting said. "This legislation will prevent patients and families from being put in such a terrible situation."
By Steve Elliott
Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of Minnesota voters support changing state law to allow people with serious and terminal illnesses to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it, according to a new poll conducted by Public Policy Polling.
"A vast majority of Minnesota voters agree that people suffering from conditions like cancer and multiple sclerosis should be able to use marijuana in the treatment of their conditions," said Heather Azzi, political director for Minnesotans for Compassionate Care. "Criminalizing seriously and sometimes terminally ill people who use marijuana to relieve their pain and suffering is not a popular idea."
The results of the statewide survey come as state lawmakers prepare a bipartisan bill that would make it legal for Minnesota residents with debilitating medical conditions, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, and HIV/AIDS, to access and use medical marijuana if advised to do so by their physicians. Its introduction is expected within the next two weeks, at which time details of the proposal will be made available.
The poll found a strong majority (54 percent) of voters in the state would disapprove of their county sheriff or county attorney working to defeat such a bill, while only 24 percent would approve. Two-thirds (66 percent) think Gov. Mark Dayton should sign it if it is approved by the Legislature.
By Andy Birkey, Minnesota Independent
Tim Pawlenty vetoed a bill to legalize marijuana for terminally ill patients late Friday evening, saying he sides with law enforcement opposition to the bill. Bill proponents say they will introduce a constitutional amendment to bypass the governor, noting overwhelming popular support in the state on the issue.
“While I am sympathetic to those dealing with end-of-life illnesses and accompanying pain, I stand with law enforcement in opposition to this legislation,” Pawlenty said in his veto letter.
“I’m disappointed in the governor’s action, but I’m not giving up,” Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, said in a press release. “This would have been the narrowest, strictest medical marijuana law in the country, but the bottom line remains that there are patients suffering terribly who need protection, and I won’t stop till they are protected.”
Joni Whiting, whose testimony of finding marijuana for her dying daughter brought tears to many legislators’ eyes, had harsh words for Pawlenty.
“The governor thinks I’m a criminal for allowing my daughter some comfort during the last months of her life,” she said. “I don’t know how he sleeps at night, but I do know I’m not giving up until others in my daughter’s situation are protected.”
Polls show the issue is popular with voters with popular support at over 60 percent for more than a decade.
By Andy Birkey, Minnesota Independent
Gov. Tim Pawlenty told reporters on Tuesday afternoon that he will definitely veto a medical marijuana bill that passed the state Legislature on Monday. But, he added, “I have great empathy for the sick.”
Legislators on both sides of the aisle watered down the bill by eliminating the ability for patients to grow their own marijuana, limiting the bill only to patients who are terminally ill and adding a sunset date two years from enactment, but none of those concessions appear to have affected Pawlenty’s opinion of the bill.
Heather Azzi of the Marijuana Policy Project, one of many groups lobbying for the bill, said in an email Tuesday afternoon, “He is going to exercise his power to make sure dying patients, and their family and friends, continue to face arrest and jail for simply trying to alleviate their pain.”
Advocates say that with majority support in the legislature and among Minnesota voters, they will bypass Pawlenty with a Constitutional amendment next year.
Hemp News Note: To contact Governor Tim Pawlenty and Lt. Governor Carol Molnau, please write, phone, fax or e-mail.
Office of the Governor
130 State Capitol
75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155
Other ways to reach their office:
Telephone: (651) 296-3391
Toll Free: (800) 657-3717
By Kevin Duchschere and Pat Doyle, Star Tribune staff writers
A bill that permits terminally ill patients to use marijuana to ease their pain cleared the House and Senate on Monday night, a measure significantly narrowed from an earlier version that would have allowed any suffering patient, terminal or not, to use the drug for medical purposes.
The House passed the bill, 70-64, a victory for supporters who have long worked to get medical marijuana legalized in Minnesota, but one not nearly big enough to override a veto by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who said Tuesday that he will reject the bill.
Hoping to make the bill more palatable to Pawlenty, Rep. Joe Atkins, DFL-Inver Grove Heights, introduced the last-minute amendment to allow marijuana to be used only by terminal patients. But there seemed little chance that Pawlenty, who has long expressed reservations, was inclined to approve the bill in any form.
The Senate, which previously had passed a broader version, took up the amended bill after the House vote and approved it, 38-28.
The issue of medical marijuana, which has been legalized by 13 states, prompted impassioned debate that pitted concern for the suffering against worries that legalizing the drug even for limited use would lead to increased drug addiction and crime.
The Atkins amendment made no difference to Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Delano, who insisted on calling the drug "medicinal pot."
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By DI Editorial Board
A bipartisan group of Minnesota lawmakers is putting forth legislation to legalize the growth of cannabis, or hemp. The Industrial Hemp Development Act (HF 608) would provide licenses to qualified farmers for the cultivation of hemp, after passing background checks, of course. Iowa lawmakers must pay close attention to the progress of Minnesota’s hemp act; its success or failure may signal how a similar act would fair here. Regardless of the reaction of our neighbors to the north, hemp production will dramatically change the face of agriculture in America, and Iowans need to be out ahead of this increasingly popular trend.
Seven states — Hawaii, West Virginia, Maine, Maryland, Montana, Kentucky, and North Dakota — have legalized hemp production; however, not one is producing the crop because of resistance from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Hemp farmers in North Dakota are granted licenses by the state, but they are required to obtain separate permits from the DEA. The agency has continually refused to accept applications, leading farmers in North Dakota to file a lawsuit against the federal government.
A common complaint among law-enforcement agencies at all levels of government is that monitoring acres of hemp for hidden pockets of marijuana would be next to impossible. This idea is, in fact, very reasonable, because hemp and marijuana are members of the same species, cannabis.
By Andy Birkey, Minnesota Independent
It can be made into paper, rope, food, biodegradable plastic and even low-carbon concrete, but in Minnesota it is illegal to grow hemp. A bipartisan group of legislators is hoping hemp production will be a boon to Minnesota farmers and manufacturers as demand for the plant and its byproducts continues to grow. The Industrial Hemp Development Act (HF 608) would allow the state to issue licenses to qualified farmers who pass background checks.
Canada already allows for industrial hemp production, and North Dakota has passed laws to allow its farmers to produce hemp — only to be stymied by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency.
Hemp farmers are required to gain a permit from the DEA, but the agency has continued to reject the applications of North Dakota farmers, prompting them to file suit against the federal government. Six other states have legalized hemp production — Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana and West Virginia — yet none is producing the crop because of DEA resistance.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Supporters of medical marijuana are enlisting family members of those who have died in slow agony as they push to get a bill to Gov. Tim Pawlenty's desk this session, even though he remains opposed.
Opponents include a former drug dealer who said authorizing seriously ill patients to obtain and use marijuana would just open the door to mischief.
The bill took its first step on Wednesday, passing the Senate Health, Housing and Family Security Committee on a divided voice vote after an emotional hearing.
"If medicinal marijuana or medical marijuana will alleviate someone's pain in their dying days, who in the hell are we to say no to that?" said Sen. Paul Koering, R-Fort Ripley, who said he became a supporter after watching his mother die of cancer.
Joni Whiting - who lost her 26-year-old daughter, Stephanie, to cancer in 2003 - broke down crying after reading a statement about the ordeal and the relief marijuana brought Stephanie. Whiting said she was anti-drug but came around when she saw how it helped her daughter. She said someone left a package of marijuana on her doorstep after she asked friends how to buy it.
"I have never known who to thank for it but I remain grateful beyond belief," Whiting said.
She added: "I would have no problem going to jail for acquiring medical marijuana for my suffering child."
But others raised doubts.
A plan to let seriously ill patients smoke pot is back at the Minnesota Legislature.
A plan to let seriously ill patients smoke pot is back at the Minnesota Legislature. The bill from DFL Senator Steve Murphy gets its first hearing of the session in a Senate health panel on Wednesday. The legislation would allow those with cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease and other debilitating conditions to use marijuana to control pain and other symptoms. Gov. Tim Pawlenty has stood against the proposal and has said it would make enforcing drug laws harder. Lawmakers have considered medical marijuana bills going back a decade, without signing off. However, two years ago, the full Senate passed the bill.