State Senate Gives Medical Marijuana Tentative OK

State Senate Gives Medical Marijuana Tentative OK
Posted by CN Staff on May 02, 2007 at 06:29:38 PT
By Rachel E. Stassen-Berger, Pioneer Press
Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press 
Minnesota -- Minnesotans should be allowed to use marijuana if they're really sick or in excruciating pain, the state Senate decided in a preliminary vote Tuesday. Go ahead, giggle. Make jokes about the munchies, dope, stoners and hippies. Lawmakers themselves occasionally laughed as they've debated the measure giving suffering Minnesotans access to medical marijuana. Then, they got serious.
Proponents have talked about people with cancer, AIDS and multiple sclerosis, and people who live with intractable pain who could get some relief from smoking marijuana. Opponents have talked about marijuana's role as a gateway drug, giving the state permission to break federal drug laws and the lack of scientifically tested dosages, strengths or drug interactions. The state Senate took all that into account Tuesday and gave the measure preliminary approval on a 33-31 vote. For final approval in the Senate, it will need at least 34 supporters. Two Senate supporters were absent Tuesday, said Sen. Steve Murphy, DFL-Red Wing and the measure's chief sponsor. The House may approve the measure next week. A House medical marijuana bill survived its fifth committee hearing Tuesday on a 20-14 vote and will have another hearing Friday. Despite support in the Legislature, Minnesota probably won't become the 12th state to sanction medical marijuana use. Gov. Tim Pawlenty is against the bill and says he will veto it if it reaches his desk. House co-sponsor and former Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, hopes that changes. He said he believes Pawlenty, who Sviggum calls a friend, will see the light. "I'm very convinced that this is an important bill to pass - from health care reform, from compassion, from the right thing to do without any great negative consequences," Sviggum said. "I just think the governor will see the same reasonableness as I have in the last couple of years on this issue." But the governor's mind hasn't changed. On Tuesday, Pawlenty said he will continue to stand with law enforcement in opposing the measure. If the state's law enforcement community changes its tune, the governor said, he'd consider letting the measure become law. "I don't think that's happened," Pawlenty said. "I'm not aware that the law enforcement community has changed its position." Although the measure became stricter as it wended its way through Capitol committees, law enforcement officials have remained opposed. Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom has spoken against the measure time and again, and he has been joined by a host of police officers in uniform. Their testimony has held some sway. "This is going to be a nightmare. It is going to be a law enforcement nightmare," Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria and a retired Douglas County sheriff, told his Senate colleagues Tuesday. But the needs of patients like Tom Fonio held more power for others. Fonio, of Champlin, is 55 and was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1983. He had nearly two decades of good years but five or six years ago, his disease took hold. Now, he has trouble walking far and is often in deep, deep pain. "It is like having really nasty burns all over your body," Fonio said. He's now taking Marinol, the FDA-approved drug that contains a synthetic version of the active ingredient in marijuana. That helps sometimes, but he wants the chance to try marijuana. "Here's a drug that has been around since before the birth of Jesus and has been used effectively for relief of pain and such, but still they are saying the research isn't in," he said. Even if it became law, the measure the Senate considered Tuesday wouldn't make it easy for patients to get marijuana: * Patients would have to get a written certification about their need for marijuana from a doctor or other medical provider. Doctors could not write prescriptions for marijuana, and health insurance need not cover patients' marijuana costs. * Patients would have to register with the Minnesota Department of Health, and each would pay a $100 fee. * Patients could get marijuana from nonprofit organizations, which also would have to register with the Health Department. Each organization also would have to pay a $1,000 fee and could not employ anyone who had ever been convicted of a drug felony. If all the rules set out in the measure were followed, those dealing with medical marijuana would be immune to civil and criminal prosecution for their involvement. They could be still convicted under federal drug laws. But if those involved violate the provisions set out in the measure, they would be penalized more harshly than current state drug laws outline. Last month, the Health Department estimated that 6,100 patients would participate in the program if it were fully up and running. Note: Final approval likely; House vote next week; veto vowed.Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press (MN)Author: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger, Pioneer PressPublished: May 1, 2007Copyright: 2007 St. Paul Pioneer PressContact: letters pioneerpress.comWebsite: Articles:Senate Passes Bill To Permit Marijuana Use Bills Curling Through Legislature Panel Narrowly Approves Marijuana Bill
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on May 07, 2007 at 18:45:42 PT
Press Release from MPP
Medical Marijuana Bill Clears Final House Committee***Bipartisan Bill Heads to Floor for House VoteMay 7, 2007ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA — Minnesota's bill to protect seriously ill patients from arrest for using medical marijuana with a doctor's recommendation is ready for a full House vote, having cleared the Ways and Means Committee today, 14-9.H.F. 655, co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 16 representatives, is the companion legislation to the Senate's medical marijuana bill, S.F. 345, which the Senate approved last week."I hope the House follows the Senate's lead and, for the sake of Minnesota's seriously ill patients, passes this compassionate bill quickly," said Rep. Tom Huntley (DFL-Duluth).This final committee vote brings Minnesota another step closer to becoming the 13th state with an effective medical marijuana law. Earlier last month, New Mexico became the latest state to protect medical marijuana patients when Gov. Bill Richardson – a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination – signed his state's medical marijuana bill into law. The other states with medical marijuana laws are Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.The overwhelming bulk of scientific evidence supports medical marijuana's safety and efficacy in treating the pain, nausea, and appetite loss associated with serious diseases such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, and multiple sclerosis. A University of California study published February in the journal Neurology found marijuana to be effective at relieving a type of disabling nerve pain common among patients with HIV/AIDS. There are no FDA-approved treatments for this type of pain, which is caused by damage to the nerves and is similar to the pain experienced by patients with multiple sclerosis and several other conditions, affecting at least 9 million Americans.
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Comment #9 posted by FoM on May 07, 2007 at 11:06:17 PT
Related Article: Fergus Falls Daily Journal
Community Urged To Contact Skogen, Nornes Over Marijuana Bill *** Monday, May 7, 2007As Chief of Police for the City of Fergus Falls I am writing to urge our community members to contact our Senator Dan Skogen and Representative Bud Nornes asking them to help defeat the Medical Use of Marijuana Bill that is about to be heard on the floors of both houses of our Minnesota Legislature.Marijuana is a Schedule I substance of the federal Controlled Substance Act (CSA). The possession, sale or manufacture of marijuana is a federal crime. Marijuana has been considered a gateway drug to other more dreadful drugs.Consequently, current federal law does not agree with the proposed medical marijuana law under consideration by the Minnesota Legislature.The conflict will subject Minnesota residents as well as law enforcement officials to conflicting and confusing laws, rules, roles and positions.Placing our citizens and law enforcement officers in this position is simply poor public policy.I could list several additional reasons why I and my fellow police chiefs in Minnesota do not support this bill from a law enforcement perspective, but most telling is content from an April 2006 news release from the FDA:“A growing number of states have passed voter referendum or legislative actions making smoked marijuana available for a variety of medical conditions upon a doctor’s recommendation. These measures are inconsistent with efforts to ensure that medications undergo the rigorous scientific scrutiny of the FDA approval process and are proven safe and effective under the standards of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. Accordingly, the FDA as the federal agency responsible for reviewing the safety and efficacy of drugs; Drug Enforcement Administration as the federal agency charged with enforcing the CSA; and the Office of National Drug Control Policy as the federal coordinator of drug control policy; do not support the use of smoked marijuana for medical purposes.”Lack of FDA Approval is further cause for opposition of medical use of marijuana in Minnesota.Again, I urge everyone to make that important contact with our legislators to vote, “no to this bill.”Tim Brennan, Chief of Public Safety - Fergus FallsCopyright: 2007, Fergus Falls Newspapers, Inc.
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on May 03, 2007 at 15:02:07 PT
State Senate OKs Medical Marijuana Use
Pioneer PressMay 3, 2007Minnesota -- On a 35-29 vote, the Minnesota Senate today approved a measure allowing extremely sick people to use marijuana. The House is also moving toward permitting Minnesotans in intractable pain or who are critically ill to use marijuana for relief. The measures would give people with certain medical ailments freedom from state sanctions. Even if the bill became law, use of marijuana would remain illegal under federal law. Gov. Tim Pawlenty opposes the use of medical marijuana and would likely veto the measure if it reaches his desk. Rachel E. Stassen-Berger can be reached at rstassen-berger pioneerpress.comCopyright: 2007 St. Paul Pioneer Press
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Comment #7 posted by mayan on May 02, 2007 at 17:01:18 PT
If the state's law enforcement community changes its tune, the governor said, he'd consider letting the measure become law.Just who elected Pawlenty, the people or law enforcement? What a jackass. 
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Comment #6 posted by whig on May 02, 2007 at 11:09:02 PT
How this should work...
New evidence should be presented to a sitting grand jury for a determination of whether there is cause to consider charges against those who may have given illegal orders or followed illegal orders to kill unarmed American civilians.
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on May 02, 2007 at 11:08:48 PT
It was a terrible event. I hope no stone is left unturned. 
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Comment #4 posted by whig on May 02, 2007 at 11:06:50 PT
New evidence warrants reopening the investigation, I think.
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Comment #3 posted by Hope on May 02, 2007 at 10:02:44 PT
It's a nightmare for everyone, now, Sir.
"This is going to be a nightmare. It is going to be a law enforcement nightmare,"
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on May 02, 2007 at 07:13:24 PT
Off Topic: Kent State Shooting
Kent State Audio Tape Released Young - Ohio - Live at Massey Hall
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on May 02, 2007 at 06:32:04 PT
Medical Marijuana News from Vermont
House Nears Passage of Expanded Medical Marijuana Bill ***May 2, 2007MONTPELIER, VERMONT — By a voice vote, the House of Representatives passed a bill today that would improve Vermont's medical marijuana law.Tuesdays’ vote, originally planned for today, clears the bill for a final House vote, which could come today. If it passes, the bill will go to a conference committee so it can be consolidated with the Senate's version, which the Senate passed at the end of February.If passed into law, the bill would add serious conditions that cause nausea, wasting, chronic pain, or seizures to the list of conditions covered by Vermont's medical marijuana law. The current law, passed in 2004, only protects patients suffering from HIV/AIDS, cancer, and multiple sclerosis from the threat of arrest and imprisonment. The new law would also increase the number of plants registered patients are allowed to grow."Our House of Representatives made a compassionate decision by passing this bill today," said Steve Perry of Randolph Center, a former heating and plumbing contractor now disabled by a degenerative joint disease not covered under Vermont's current law. "I am grateful that they considered suffering patients like me who could benefit from this medicine, but are forbidden from obtaining it regardless of whether our doctors recommend it. I sincerely hope Gov. Douglas does the same when this legislation arrives at his desk."Of the 12 state medical marijuana laws, Vermont's law is the most restrictive in terms of qualifying medical conditions."This bill gets Vermont's law much closer to reflecting what scientific research tells us about medical cannabis's potential applications," said Joseph McSherry, a Burlington neurologist. "If a patient and doctor believe medical cannabis to be an appropriate treatment, and that opinion is supported by the available research, then the law should permit the treatment. This is a significant improvement that the legislature has enacted."Copyright: 2007 Vermont Guardian
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