Medical Marijuana Passes Another Senate Committee, Local Drug Treatment Center Weighs in

Updated: 04/29/2014 9:31 PM
Created: 04/29/2014 4:50 PM
By: Kate Renner

At the capitol, the medical marijuana bill that would allow patients with debilitating medical conditions, access to the drug, passed another senate committee Tuesday. As this bill continues to gain steam, an executive director for a Minneapolis drug treatment center says it's time to put on the brakes.

Sitting in the back of each and every committee hearing and vote, the Pauling family is a constant reminder to lawmakers, that the laws they make are personal.

"We don't have that time," said Jeremy Pauling. Pauling's 7-year-old daughter Katelyn suffers from 50 to 60 seizures a day.

"The longer we wait, the more it's going to hurt my daughter. And we're to the point, if this doesn't get done here. We're either splitting our family or we're all moving to Colorado," said Pauling.

According to the Executive Director of Park Avenue Center, a drug treatment center in Minneapolis, more scientific tests need to be done.

"There's a significant chance of unintended consequences," said Mark Casagrande, Executive Director of Park Avenue Center, and President-Elect of Minnesota Association of Resources for Recovery and Chemical Health.

Casagrande believes there are consequences, like leading to more wide-spread abuse.

"By legalizing it, the fear is in a round about way you're making it okay to use it. And that easily leads to more abuse," said Casagrande.

Casagrande, much like the Minnesota Department of Health, wants science to lead the way.

"We believe it needs to be regulated by FDA, and those major decisions must be based on science, not anecdotal stories," said Casagrande.

"We do not believe the bill currently drafted achieves the goal of compassionate use through a scientifically sound manner," said Aggie Leitheiser, Assistant Commissioner, Minnesota Dept. of Health.

But for Minn. Sen. Branden Petersen, who supports the bill, he believes more tests mean less hope for the families in the back of the room.

"That is going to take years to do, despite the fact that we have an option available today. That can provide relief," said Sen. Petersen.

"We don't have that opportunity, we need to get going on this now," said Pauling.

The bill will now make its way through two other senate committees, the Judicial and Budget Committees, before it could be taken up by the entire senate for a vote. There's also a similar bill working its way through the house.

Governor Mark Dayton has made it clear he's siding with law enforcement, and opposes legalizing medical marijuana. So if this bill makes it to the governor's desk, he could veto it.

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