ST. CLOUD, Minn. — Supporters of medical marijuana say the state's upcoming 2014 legislative session could represent Minnesota's best chance in years to see pot legalized for medical use.
Gov. Mark Dayton has urged supporters to negotiate with opponents in law enforcement to reach a compromise, and that effort could finally be gaining momentum, the St. Cloud Times reported (http://on.sctimes.com/1k2FPxm ).
State Rep. Carly Melin, a Hibbing Democrat who's the lead House sponsor of medical marijuana legislation said she tried negotiating with law enforcement groups but they refused to listen. But some of those groups have begun softening their stances and are at least willing to consider permitting marijuana extracts, she said.
The state association of police chiefs has open to discussing allowing extracts in pill, liquid or inhaler form, she said.
The Minnesota County Attorneys Association is also open to the idea. Executive Director John Kingrey said his group still opposes any bill making it legal to smoke marijuana for medicinal purposes, but extracts might be a viable compromise.
"If you can come up with a truly medicinal product, one that can be reduced to medication or an inhalant, I think we're certainly open to that," Kingrey told the newspaper.
Melin said she's glad to see both sides moving toward common ground. But she said other states that have legalized medical marijuana haven't followed this specific course so it's hard to say whether it's actually feasible.
She also said some patients who need immediate relief or who can't swallow medication might need marijuana that can be smoked.
Minnesota lawmakers voted once before to legalize medical marijuana in 2009. But then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed the bill, citing law enforcement concerns.
Dayton expressed similar worries. He said he'd be willing to sign a bill that the law enforcement community can support.
Law enforcement groups have said if marijuana is legalized for medical purposes it would still find its way into schools and neighborhoods. They also say marijuana's medical value remains unproven, and they worry that legalizing it under a medical exemption will lead to full legalization.
Twenty other states and Washington, D.C., allow medical marijuana in some form.