Minnesota lawmakers on Thursday hashed out a bipartisan plan to legalize medical marijuana. Notably, the bill would only allow qualified patients to use the drug in oil, pill or vapor form -- smoking would not be allowed.
"This bill is citizen government at its best,” Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton said in a statement Thursday, pledging to sign the bill. “It has been led by parents, who deeply love their children, are anguished by their pain, and insist their government try to help them.”
The bipartisan deal brought together two distinctly different approaches toward medical marijuana legalization that passed through the state House and Senate earlier this month.
Based off the House version, the proposal would set up a registry available to a limited number of patients who suffer from either eight specific ailments or a terminal illness. Two manufacturers would be allowed to distribute from a total of eight locations across the state in a measure lawmakers hope to implement by the middle of next year.
Legislators cut the deal down to the wire with just days before the end of the legislative session. A conference committee still needs to adopt the measure before it’s crunch time for the House and Senate to pass the proposal before Monday.
“The fact that we were able to come together with an agreement that is going to be signed into law is thrilling for a lot of people who have been fighting very, very hard through blood, sweat and tears in order to get something done this session,” state Rep. Carly Melin, author of the House version of the bill, said in a press conference Thursday afternoon.
Currently, 21 states and the District of Columbia have laws allowing medical marijuana on the books, while two more, Colorado and Washington, allow for the recreational use of pot. Minnesota’s deal Thursday fuels a growing momentum across the country as families explore the benefits of medical cannabis for children who suffer from severe seizure disorders.
One of those parents is Angie Weaver. Her 8-year-old daughter, Amelia, is diagnosed with Davit Syndrome, meaning she could suffer from as many as 30 to 50 seizures in a single day.
“This means the world to our family. This is going to change my daughter’s life, and thousands of lives in Minnesota,” Weaver said while choking back tears at the press conference Thursday.
“My daughter is going to be able to stay in Minnesota, grow up with her cousins, and have quality of life.”