The Minnesota Senate voted to legalize medical marijuana on Tuesday, bringing the state another step closer to legalization. The House is expected to vote on its own bill on Friday.
The Minnesota Senate voted 48-18 to pass a piece of legislation legalizing medical marijuana in the state on Tuesday.
The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Scott Dibble, a Democrat from Minneapolis, would allow those suffering from severe and debilitating medical conditions such as cancer, HIV, AIDS, epilepsy, glaucoma and severe, intractable pain, to use medical marijuana if a doctor recommends it. Patients could obtain medical marijuana in the form of a pill, oil or a vaporizer.
Under the legislation, patients would not be allowed to smoke the substance. Of the 21 states and Washington, D.C., that have legalized medical marijuana, none have included a smoking ban.
The House is expected to consider voting on its version of a medical marijuana program on Friday. Though the House version of Dibble’s bill has garnered some support from lawmakers, Rep. Carly Melin, a Democrat from Hibbing, who sponsored the legislation, recently proposed another form of medical marijuana legalization in the form of a clinical trial.
“We applaud the Senate for standing up for patients,” said Heather Azzi, political director for Minnesotans for Compassionate Care. “We hope their colleagues in the House will join them in supporting this sensible and compassionate legislation.”
“Seriously ill Minnesotans deserve safe and legal access to medical marijuana, and that is what this bill will provide,” Azzi said. “It’s the right thing to do, and now is the right time to do it.”
Though many medical marijuana advocates have referred to Melin’s latest proposal as an “unworkable” program, the clinical trial has obtained the support of law enforcement and Minnesota’s Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton, who said he would only sign off on legislation if law enforcement supported the bill.
Whether Dayton would sign the Senate-endorsed medical marijuana legalization legislation is not yet known, but given that there is such bipartisan support in the Senate for the bill, the legislative body may be able to override the governor’s veto.