Entering the spring recess at the Capitol, one of the biggest disappointments of this legislative session has been DFLers refusing to allow a vote on the issue of medical marijuana. Legislators collect a hefty salary and per diem for what is supposed to be a part-time job. DFLers think so much of the job that they just voted to build themselves a brand new $90 million State Legislative Office Building (SLOB). If DFLers are going to spend your money on a new palace for politicians, then the least they can do is perform the job they are paid to do. Taking votes on important issues is one of those jobs. Medical marijuana is one of those important issues.
To be clear, this is not a partisan issue. Across Minnesota, majorities of DFL, Republican and independent voters support licensed medical doctors being permitted to prescribe medical marijuana to their patients. Most citizens support the medical use of marijuana for good reasons.
Voters have heard the heart-wrenching stories from parents across Minnesota about the benefits that the pain-relieving ingredients within medical marijuana have for their children. Medical marijuana has been shown to dramatically reduce the instances of seizures for children, help relieve pain for people coping with a terminal illness and help mitigate the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Unfortunately, most DFLers have put special interests in St. Paul ahead of the best interests of Minnesota families. Earlier this year, Gov. Mark Dayton gave law enforcement authorities a blank check to oppose any medical marijuana bill, saying he would veto any legislation that didn’t have law enforcement backing.
While support from law enforcement authorities is critical, especially around the issue of marijuana, their objections should not take priority over the best interests of Minnesota families. They should not take priority over the life-changing benefits for families struggling with devastating medical conditions. Most certainly, they should not take a priority over legislative DFLers doing their job and allowing members to vote on this issue.
It’s time Minnesota joined the 20 other states that have already recognized the benefits and legalized medical marijuana. I’ve heard from several families who are looking to relocate to other states so they can get legal treatments for their loved ones. Forcing families to uproot their lives and leave our great state is not the way we do things here in Minnesota.
Even legislators who staunchly oppose the legalization of marijuana are supportive of easing restrictions on medical marijuana. They recognize the life-changing impact that medical marijuana can have and are looking for a common-sense solution.
With six weeks left in this legislative session, there are several Republican legislators willing to work with the DFLers to craft a bill that helps these families. Too many Minnesota families have waited long enough. The time for excuses is over.
Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, is a member of the Minnesota House.