Minn. House Committee OKs Medical-Marijuana Bill

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP/WCCO) — A Minnesota House committee has approved a plan that would legalize medical marijuana, but it still faces a long road in the Legislature.

Members of the Health and Human Services Policy Committee advanced the bill Tuesday evening after listening to mothers testify about how their children suffered up to 100 seizures a day before receiving marijuana treatment.

Angie and Josh Weaver, of Hibbing, Minn., shared the story of their daughter, Amelia, who suffers from a rare form of epilepsy. She’s had 1,000 seizures since she was 2 years old. Her parents want cannabis oil as a treatment option.

“We will do anything for our daughter and we have, including moving [from Minnesota], but I don’t think we should have to,” Angie Weaver said.

Many  testified saying that the drug legal so no one else will have to watch their sick children suffer.

“Could you sleep at night with your child screaming in pain?” asked Joni Whiting from Jordan, Minn. “What price would you pay to relieve the suffering of someone you love?”

But law enforcement organizations have opposed legalizing medical marijuana. They have formed an informal coalition that issued a list of requirements for the proposal, including that the drug must come only in pill, liquid or vapor form.

Law-enforcement opposition in 2009 was a chief reason why then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed a similar bill passed by lawmakers. Gov. Mark Dayton also has aligned himself with law enforcement on the current bill.

Medical marijuana is also a hot topic for medical professionals. Dr. Sue Sisley flew in from Arizona to testify Tuesday.

She said she “cannot rest” knowing a drug that could help sick people is being forced to sit on the shelf.

While some people with cancer and epilepsy have had positive experiences with marijuana, the Minnesota Medical Association (MMA) hasn’t taken a stance yet. They say research would have to be done to justify any action.

“We have a real push in medicine to try and do evidence-based medicine,” said Dr. Dave Thorson, an MMA Board Chair. “We want to apply the evidence across the populations and say we have evidence that this works. Anecdotes, which are individual stories, are very powerful things with the public, but they don’t necessarily help us with evidence-based medicine.”

Still, the families who testified Tuesday are hoping a law will come sooner than later.

“This is so not dangerous to our society…but it is so life saving for our daughter,” said Maria Botker from Clinton, Minn.

The bill now moves to a House government operations committee.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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