MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Legalizing medical marijuana in Minnesota is gaining public support. A new Star Tribune poll shows a slight majority of Minnesotans are in favor of it.
Fifty-one percent of those surveyed support using marijuana for medical reasons, while 41 percent oppose such a move. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
The new poll also shows that 63 percent of Minnesotans oppose legalizing marijuana for recreational use, like in Colorado and Washington state.
Thirty percent support it. And seven percent are not sure.
Twenty states and Washington, D.C. have made the move, and now Minnesota could be next.
It’s an issue that will come up during the next legislative session that gets underway in a week.
“When the spasms happen … they are intense. I have had muscle spasms so severe that I have blacked out,” said Patrick McClellan.
McClellan has dozens of prescribed medications to ease his symptoms. But he says sometimes, they don’t work. He recalled a bad day a couple of years ago.
“I started having muscle spasms in my legs and abdominal muscles, and the spasms would not stop. I was trapped between my bed and the wall for two and half hours until my wife came home,” McClellan said.
That’s why he started using marijuana, with a vaporizer. He said it’s way more effective.
“Compared to when I had the attacks in prior years, it’s been a night and day difference at least for me,” he said.
State Sen. Scott Dibble is a co-sponsor of the medical marijuana bill.
“There is quite a bit of static and resistence to taking this step. We have passed this before in the state legislature. It’s just something that makes a whole lot of sense,” Dibble said.
But’s that’s not how leaders in law enforcement in Minnesota see it. They’ve expressed concern and voiced their opposition.
“We really need to do this for people. It’s a simple matter of compassion for people who are suffering. Twenty-one other states have figured it out. Minnesota can certainly figure this out,” he said.
But many state lawmakers and others see it as a complicated matter.
Sarah Kyei is visiting Minnesota as part of a fellowship offered by the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.
“I don’t know, I stand in between … if it’s for medical purposes, fine, but then we need to put into place restrictions so that it doesn’t fall into wrong hands,” she said.
Gov. Mark Dayton has said without the support of the law enforcement community, he is not in favor of legalizing medical marijuana.
The bill passed in the House and Senate in 2009, only to be vetoed by Tim Pawlenty, who was governor at the time.
So exactly how would this work, if medical marijuana were legalized?
Medical dispensaries would open in each county where people with prescriptions from their doctors could go to buy marijuana, or patients could grow their own plants at home.