A compromise proposal by Gov. Mark Dayton to fund research at the Mayo Clinic on medical marijuana lacks support from activists who want to see wider legalization of the drug for treatment purposes, and Dayton said Tuesday it’s not likely to happen this year.
The governor has been reluctant to back medical marijuana legalization, but said he had hoped a study would keep the debate alive while more research is conducted or federal drug laws are changed. Dayton met recently with a handful of medical marijuana activists, after which he directed several top deputies to develop a compromise that would lessen law enforcement concerns about the bill.
Medical marijuana activists, however, rejected the compromise. Heather Azzi, director of Minnesotans for Compassionate Care, said the governor’s proposal isn’t workable — there’s no legal way for researchers to obtain marijuana, she said, and patients who participate would expose themselves to legal risk.
“What you need is some legal distribution network, and what the governor proposed does not include that,” Azzi said. She said activists would like to continue working with the administration to reach a compromise that would satisfy all sides, but Dayton and legislative leaders have been skeptical of resolution this year.
Activists are planning a Wednesday news conference at the Capitol where they have promised to “slam” Dayton on the issue.
Dayton wanted to funnel about $2 million in state funds toward researching cannabidiol, an oil extracted from marijuana and administered in pill form. Many parents of children with severe forms of epilepsy say cannabidiol helps reduce violent seizures.
Without support from medical marijuana activists or their legislative allies, Dayton said on WCCO Radio (830 AM), the chances of progress on the issue this year are “slim and none.” He said he hoped to work on it next session.