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Dayton: Medical marijuana study lacks backing; chances 'slim and none'

  • Blog Post by: Patrick Condon
  • March 25, 2014 - 11:21 AM

(Updated)

A compromise proposal by Gov. Mark Dayton that the state of Minnesota fund research by Mayo Clinic into an oil-based marijuana compound lacks support from advocates for medical use of the drug and their legislative allies and isn't likely to happen this year, the governor said Tuesday. 

Dayton's chief of staff, commissioner of health and a senior policy adviser met last week with a group of medical marijuana activists who want the drug legalized for medical purposes in Minnesota. That followed an earlier meeting between the governor himself and a handful of activists who he invited into his residence after they showed up there to demonstrate. 

Medical marijuana backers have struggled to build support for full-scale legalization from legislators and Dayton amid concerns from law enforcement and medical groups. Dayton, who has said he's sympathetic to their plight, offered a compromise: a bill to funnel about $2 million in state funds toward researching cannabidiol, an oil extracted from marijuana and administered in pill form. Many parents of children with severe forms of epilepsy say cannabidiol helps reduce violent seizures. 

Dayton said last week such research could pave the way for relaxed state regulation of some forms of marijuana for medical use, and that law enforcement groups didn't oppose such research. But Dayton said Tuesday on WCCO-AM that medical marijuana activists notified his administration they don't support the study. The governor said the lawmakers sponsoring the medical marijuana bill don't support it either. 

"Its prospects for this session are slim and none," Dayton said. "We'll work on it next session." 

Heather Azzi, director of the pro-medical marijuana group Minnesotans for Compassionate Care, said Dayton's proposal isn't workable because there's no legal way for researchers to have access to marijuana and that any patients who participate would be exposing themselves to legal risk. 

"What you need is some legal distribution network, and what the governor proposed does not include that," Azzi said. But she said advocates would like to continue working with the administration to reach a compromise that would satisfy all sides. 

Prospects for the existing proposal to legalize medical marijuana are not bright for the current session. Legislative leaders have said in recent days they don't believe there's enough support to pass it this year. 

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