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Continued: Legislators wrap up session early in a flurry of deal-making

That was the second tax relief measure of the session. In March, Dayton signed a bill providing $444 million in relief that reached about a million taxpayers. “Between this bill and the last one, we will have delivered $550 million in tax cuts for Minnesotans this year,” said Rep. Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington.

Limits for medical marijuana

The medical marijuana proposal prompted the most high profile policy debate of the session. Lawmakers and the Dayton administration had struck a final deal on the proposal just a day earlier. They agreed to a limited system of production and distribution that is considered the most restrictive among the 21 states that currently authorize access to medical marijuana.

The new medical marijuana law, which Dayton has promised to sign, authorizes access to the drug for about 5,000 Minnesotans with conditions including cancer, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS and a handful of others. With a health care provider’s permission, those patients will enroll in a patient registry that will allow the state Department of Health to monitor their progress.

The drug will be available only in pill or oil forms, with smoking not allowed and access to the drug in its original plant form forbidden. That was not enough to mollify some skeptics.

“It will change the face of Minnesota, folks, and don’t think it won’t,” said Sen. Carrie Ruud, R-Breezy Point. “We’re legalizing a drug.”

Others said the move was premature.

“We don’t have any studies, or proven methods of knowing what works for who, and at what level,” said Rep. Kathy Lohmer, R-Stillwater. “We’re basically just saying, we’re going to try this and see how this works. I think that is the opposite of compassion.”

Bakk noted the proposal was stalled for much of the session and revived only with the persistent lobbying of a small group of families of children with epilepsy who want to treat their kids’ seizures with a marijuana-based oil.

“This was not on the legislative agenda of most of us in this room,” Bakk said. “What that tells me is this is a wonderful example of how representative democracy works. A small group of families with their hurting children came to the Capitol, and they changed the law.”


Patrick Condon • 651-925-5049


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