Parents of ailing children, doctors and clergy are intensifying their push to persuade legislators and Gov. Mark Dayton to legalize medical marijuana this year.
“Our leaders here in Minnesota have the opportunity to heal the sick and bind up the injured,” said the Rev. Catherine Schuyler, of Duluth. “They have the opportunity to make good medicine available to those who are in pain.”
Minnesotans for Compassionate Care, the group leading their effort, held a news conference at the Capitol on Tuesday to announce that 100 doctors and religious leaders from around the state support the measure.
The proposal would allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to patients with a host of ailments, including children who suffer from seizure disorders.
Federal regulators do not consider marijuana to have a medical benefit, so doctors are barred from prescribing it.
Dayton is bowing to the strong objections of law enforcement and health officials, who say that the change would make it easier for marijuana to end up in the hands of children and recreational users.
Dayton has tried to seek a compromise, offering to have the state pay for a Mayo Clinic study that would allow at least 200 children with seizures to be part of trials to see if marijuana does have medical benefits.
The study could provide new and potentially ground-breaking medical research in what has become a very political issue in Minnesota and around the country.
Medical marijuana advocates have so far rejected the study proposal, saying there is no guarantee that Mayo Clinic could legally obtain marijuana for the trial.
So advocates resumed their push for legalization, saying public opinion and existing medical research is on their side.
“Studies have shown that medical marijuana is a safe and effective treatment for people suffering from nausea, appetite loss and pain that are often caused by HIV/AIDS or the medical used to treat it,” said Bill Tiedemann, executive director of the Minnesota AIDS project.
No doctors or medical professionals attended the news conference, but the Minnesota Nurses Association released a statement of support.
“We believe this legislation will result in positive health outcomes for the sickest patients in Minnesota,” the group said.