Council members expressed support today for legalizing medical marijuana in Minnesota, as advocates prepare to push for the measure at the State Capitol this year.

“Medical marijuana is a valuable tool for doctors,” Council Member Andrew Johnson declared at a meeting of the Intergovernmental Relations Committee.

The panel voted to add support for a medical marijuana law to the city’s legislative agenda.

Johnson said he underwent three eye surgeries for glaucoma and “was on every single drug possible” beforehand to reduce his loss of vision and improve the outcome of the operations. His doctor, who also treated patients in Florida, was permitted to prescribe them marijuana.

He added: “She told me flat out this improves the outcomes for our patients … I didn’t have that option in this state, and I don’t want to see any of our residents or any residents in this state lose vision.”

Council Member Lisa Bender made a special trip to the committee – though she is not a member – to share her experience surviving breast cancer.

“This is a big deal,” she said.

Bender said she had surgery followed by six months of chemotherapy and years of drugs to prevent a  reoccurrence of bre

ast cancer, all which came with side effects including nausea, pain, and difficulty sleeping.

Drugs for patients today include sleeping pills, anti-anxiety medications and narcotic pain medications, she said, and “I don’t see any reasons that policymakers should stand in the way of … adding medical marijuana to that toolkit.”

“It is the smart thing to do,” she said, “and the compassionate thing to do for many people who are suffering today.”