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Updated: 05/02/2013 1:49 PM
Created: 05/02/2013 11:41 AM | Print |  Email
By: Maricella Miranda

FACTS: Medical Marijuana History, Laws, Concerns

A bill legalizing medical marijuana is back in Minnesota.

The bipartisan measure, being introduced Thursday to lawmakers, would allow Minnesotans to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it.

It's not the first time Minnesotans have discussed such a bill in this state. Read about past bills, concerns local police have had about legalizing the drug, and marijuana laws in other states.

Latest MN Medical Marijuana Bill

  • Rep. Carly Melin (DFL-Hibbing) introduced the bill, HF 1818.
  • Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis) is introducing the companion bill, SF 1641.
  • Lawmakers likely wouldn't take action on the bill until 2014.
  • Both bills have the maximum number of sponsors - 35 in the House (including 12 committee chairs) and 5 in the Senate (including 2 committee chairs).
  • Nearly 65 percent of Minnesota voters support changing the state law to allow people with serious and terminal illnesses to use the drug.
  • 66 percent say Gov. Mark Dayton should sign such a bill if approved.

Source: Minnesotans for Compassionate Care, a coalition based in St. Louis Park of organizations, medical professionals, patients and concerned citizens.


History of Medical Marijuana Bills in MN

  • In 1999, the first bill aimed to legalize the drug was introduced
  • In 2007, a bill moved through the committee process, but with no House vote.
  • In 2009, lawmakers passed a bill by Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed it.
  • In the 2011-2010 biennium, a bill was introduced, but didn't get a hearing.

Source: House Research Department for the Minnesota House of Representatives.


Other States Legalizing Medical Marijuana

  • In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 215 - making California the first state in the country to allow for the medical use of marijuana.
  • 18 states and the District of Columbia now have similar laws.
  • Colorado and Washington state have legalized marijuana for adults 21 and older.
  • Similar medical marijuana legislation has been introduced in 14 states this year, and bills are expected to be reviewed in 2 more states.


Police Concerns in MN

  • More people will abuse marijuana if its allowed for medical purposes.
  • People could fraudulently obtain the drug under the guise of medical needs.
  • A financial incentive would exist to cultivate marijuana for unlawful purposes.
  • Marijuana grow and distribution would create public safety risks.
  • People who illegally have marijuana operations could expand their businesses.
  • Police would have to return medical marijuana seized, violating federal law.
  • It would negatively impact investigating illegal marijuana cases.

Source: According to the Minnesota Law Enforcement Coalition in response to a medical marijuana bill introduced in 2009. The list of concerns can be found here.

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