Updated: 04/23/2014 5:31 PM
Created: 04/23/2014 8:10 AM KSTP.com
By: Jennie Olson
The battle for the full legalization of marijuana is front and center at the Minnesota State Capitol on Wednesday.
The Rally at the Rotunda featured several speakers, including Neill Franklin, Executive Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), Minnesota State Rep. Rena Moran, Jim Northrup, Native American Poet/Author and others. The MN NORML rally focused on racial disparities, for-profit policing, the prison industrial complex, dishonorable discharges of military personnel for cannabis use, and the medical benefits of the plant.
On Tuesday, more than 100 doctors and clergy members were also at the Minnesota State Capitol to show their support for marijuana legalization. The group included representatives from the Minnesota Nurses Association, Minnesota AIDS Project, AFL-CIO, and the United Food and Commercial Workers union.
The rallies are ahead of a Senate committee hearing Friday about the bill, which allows licensed practitioners to prescribe marijuana to patients for maladies including cancer, epilepsy and extreme pain.
The issue has opened up a sharp rift between advocates and Gov. Mark Dayton, who has sided with law enforcement against a broad proposal; Dayton has said he would not sign a bill legalizing medical marijuana without the support of law enforcement. He has suggested researching the plant's medicinal qualities.
Supporters want access to the drug now to ease suffering.