Representatives voted 86-39 on a bipartisan basis to advance the
bill, which differs from a measure state senators approved on
Tuesday that would make physician-prescribed medical marijuana legal
for a broad range of illnesses.
More than 20 U.S. states have approved medical marijuana on a broad
basis and others on a narrower basis, according to the National
Conference of State Legislatures.
The two versions had bipartisan support in the Democratic-controlled
legislature. Democratic Governor Mark Dayton said in a letter on
Friday to sponsors of both measures that he would sign the House
bill if the legislature approves it.
"I know it's easy for us sometimes as politicians or legislators to
just tell people that we'll wait another year, but these families
can't wait another year, they need relief now," said Representative
Carly Melin, the bill's sponsor.
Patients would have to be Minnesota residents and register with the
state health department to receive medical marijuana from licensed
pharmacists under the bill. The health department estimated that
about 5,000 people would enroll.
Participants would have to be diagnosed with one of several
conditions that include seizure disorders, cancer, glaucoma,
multiple sclerosis and other disorders that cause severe muscle
spasms, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, HIV and AIDS.
Patients would be allowed to vaporize the cannabis, but would be
prohibited from smoking it and would not be allowed to use the plant
or leaf form.
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The Minnesota Medical Association supports the House proposal, but
not the Senate measure, which would make medical marijuana legal on
more broad terms.
Patients could possess up to 2.5 ounces (71 grams) of marijuana at
any one time under the Senate bill, which calls for up to 55
dispensaries around Minnesota.
Patients could ingest the marijuana in various forms under the
Senate proposal, including heating the leaf form to just short of
combustion, but smoking would be prohibited.
(Reporting by David Bailey, editing by G Crosse and Mohammad
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