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There’s no limit in Melin’s proposal on how many patients could participate in the trials. Results would be reported back to the Department of Health as well as to major scientific journals. If her proposal were to become law, the state would contract with a grower by December and patients would start getting access to marijuana by July 2015.
Azzi said distributing marijuana for medical use via clinical trials has not proven effective in other states that have tried it. She said requiring doctors to be present when marijuana is consumed is particularly problematic.
Parents weigh in
Still, parents of children with seizure-inducing forms of epilepsy — who frequently stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Azzi and other adult patients at frequent Capitol news conferences pushing for legalization — parted ways with Azzi on Thursday to praise the new House proposal.
“I’m supporting whatever we can get done this year,” said Jeremy Pauling, a Montevideo father of a daughter with Batten disease and epilepsy who has frequently traveled to the Capitol to push for legal access to marijuana to reduce her seizures. “We need to have something. We can’t keep going backwards.”
Another regular visitor to the Capitol on the issue is Joni Whiting of Jordan, whose daughter died of skin cancer at 26 in 2003. Whiting said she helped her daughter obtain marijuana in the final months of her life, which she smoked before eating to combat nausea.
“I’m trying to imagine how it even would have worked if we’d been forced to have had a doctor with us every single time. Would he have driven to our house multiple times a day?” Whiting asked. “There’s so many people in situations like that.”
Melin’s retooled proposal is set for a House committee hearing on Friday. The more expansive Senate proposal has cleared a series of committees in that chamber and may be headed for a floor vote, setting up the prospect of a highly charged debate on the issue that could dominate the final three weeks of the legislative session.
“We’re going to proceed with our ideas for the time being,” said Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, the Senate sponsor. He said Melin’s proposal “has some interesting ideas in it,” but goes too far in meeting what he considers unfounded concerns from law enforcement.
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