Senators voted 48-18 to approve the bill, which
received bipartisan support in the Democratic-controlled Senate. The
bill differs sharply from a state House of Representatives proposal
to make medical marijuana available through a research study.
Democratic Senator Scott Dibble, a bill sponsor, had urged approval
of the measure, "in the name of compassion, the name of having
access to something that can make a real difference for the better
for some people."
In opposing the bill, Republican Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen said he
was concerned Minnesota was, "taking baby steps toward legalizing
recreational marijuana in the state."
Ingebrigtsen, a former sheriff, pointed to initial approval of
medical marijuana in Colorado and Washington state that was followed
later by approval for recreational use by adults.
Patients suffering from cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, epilepsy, multiple
sclerosis and other conditions, or from severe pain, wasting or
nausea from medical treatments could obtain prescriptions under the
Senate medical marijuana bill.
The bill would permit up to 55 dispensing centers around Minnesota.
The health commissioner could approve other centers and make other
conditions eligible for medical marijuana.
could possess up to 2.5 ounces (71 grams) of marijuana at any one
time. The marijuana could be ingested in various forms including
pills or oils, or vaporized by heating it to just shy of combustion
to release the compounds.
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Smoking the marijuana would be prohibited under either the Senate
or House bills under consideration.
The bill in the state House of Representatives would allow Minnesota
children and adults suffering from severe illnesses to take part in
a research study of medical marijuana in a pill or liquid form. The
state health department estimated that about 5,000 people would
enroll in the study.
(Reporting by David Bailey)
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