The Status of Medical Marijuana in Minnesota

June 26th, 2009

Whatever happened to that medical marijuana bill that was in the news this year?  Did it ever get passed?  Is marijuana legal now in Minnesota?  The short answer is: No, marijuana is NOT legal to possess or use in the state of Minnesota, for any reason, at this time.

The Minnesota State Legislature has adjourned for the session now, but before it did, the medical marijuana bill passed in the state Senate as SF 345, and in the House, as HF 655.  However, the bill was not signed into law during the current Legislative Session because Governor Pawlenty vetoed the bill when it was presented to him late last month. 

The Minnesota Senate and House are not the only fora in which medical marijuana has been discussed.  Minnesota is the 13th state to contemplate the legalization of medical marijuana.  The states that currently have a medical marijuana policy are: AK, CA, CO, HI, ME, MI, MT, NV, NM, OR, RI, VT, and WA.

But Minnesota might lose it’s spot as potentially the 13th state to enact a medical marijuana bill.  New Hampshire’s Legislature passed their medical marijuana bill on June 24, 2009 and sent it on to the Governor for consideration.

Furthermore, there is strong public opinion on both sides of this issue, and popular culture has latched onto the topic as well.  For example, popular TV shows — such as the HBO original series Entourage — have featured the topic of medical marijuana in recurring plot lines.

So, what are the main arguments on each side?  The folks who are in favor of the bill argue that individuals with terminal illnesses such as cancer and advanced stages of HIV/AIDS could benefit tremendously from the anti-nausea and pain relieving properties of medical marijuana, and that making medical marijuana available by prescription would not  increase the illegal use of the substance.  Here’s a link to a website that has more information on this side of the arguement: http://drugwarfacts.org/cms/?q=node/54.

The folks who are opposed to the bill argue that medical marijuana puts Minnesota law in conflict with federal law, and medical marijuana poses serious public health and safety risks.  Some of the risks cited by opponents are violence and theft of supplies of marijuana, and that young people would take opportunities to abuse the law.  Also, the FDA recently released a report stating that there was no scientific study supporting the use of medical marijuana.

For more information on this side of the argument, check out State Senator Amy Koch’s website, at: http://www.senate.leg.state.mn.us/members/member_bio.php?leg_id=15189, and the FDA’s statement on medical marijuana on its website at: http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/2006/ucm108643.htm.

The American Medical Association is opposed to medical marijuana legislation; the Minnesota Medical Association has adopted a neutral position, neither opposing nor supporting the legislation.

To read the text of the Senate Bill for the details of the conditions on the use of medical marijuana in Minnesota, check out the Minnesota Senate Website, at: https://www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/bin/bldbill.php?bill=S0345.3.html&session=ls85.

While the status of Minnesota’s medical marijuana law remains in question in the state government, as for the implications of Minnesota’s medical marijuana status on criminal law, there is no question: It’s currently illegal to use, possess, produce or sell marijuana or any other illegal substance.

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