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Medical marijuana heads for vote by full Senate

Posted by: Patrick Condon under Health care, Gov. Mark Dayton, Minnesota legislature, Minnesota state senators Updated: May 5, 2014 - 1:29 PM

The proposal to legalize medical marijuana in Minnesota is headed for a vote by the full state Senate. 

The proposal cleared its final committee hurdle. The Senate Finance Committee backed the proposal on a bipartisan vote of 14-7, the last stop in a lengthy committee process. Its chief sponsor, Sen. Scott Dibble, said a floor vote is planned later this week. 

The bill now before the Senate would authorize up to 55 medical marijuana dispensaries throughout Minnesota, distributed according to county population. It would give access to marijuana for a list of patients with qualifying conditions that include cancer, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder and several conditions that cause chronic pain. 

The Senate proposal would not allow patients to smoke marijuana, but they could use a vaporizer which is a device that's somewhat similar to smoking. Patients could also consume the drug in pill or oil form. 

The Senate proposal is more wide-ranging that a companion version now working through the state House, which attempts to fashion a clinical trial approach that would require marijuana be used in the presence of a doctor. The House proposal is due to be considered by that chamber's Ways and Means Committee on Monday or Tuesday. 

The House proposal's more limited approach was meant to address concerns from law enforcement groups, whose opposition to a more sweeping medical marijuana legalization has been a key factor in Gov. Mark Dayton's concerns about the bill. 

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