Minnesota Activists Target Medical Marijuana for 2014

Minnesota Activists Target Medical Marijuana for 2014

ST. PAUL, MN — Bills to allow for the use of medical marijuana in Minnesota have popular support and may still be introduced this year, but will be little more than place markers for 2014, supporters said this week, citing opposition from the governor’s office and law enforcement.

Heather Azzi of Minnesotans for Compassionate Care said the effort got off to a late start this year, and that the rest of the year would be devoted to trying to shore up support.

“We just had a lot of background work to do before we got started,” she told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. And there is a lot of work to be done assuaging the concerns on opponents. “There has to be a way for us to mitigate their concerns,” she said. “We will be meeting with them between now and January to do just that.”

Medical marijuana made it through the legislature in 2009, only to be vetoed by then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R). The current governor, Democrat Mark Dayton, isn’t any friendlier on the issue.

He told the Associated Press in December that he wasn’t interested in advancing either medical marijuana or decriminalization. “I don’t think we need another drug operating in our society,” he said then.

Minnesota law enforcement remains intransigent as well. Dennis Flaherty, executive director of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, told the Star-Tribune any bill like the 2009 bill would not be going anywhere.

“It would be a regulatory and enforcement nightmare,” Flaherty said.

The state’s political movers-and-shakers are apparently more attuned to the complaints of law enforcement than the desires of the electorate.

A Public Policy Polling survey earlier this month had support for medical marijuana at 65%, with 66% saying the governor should not veto such a bill if it passes and 54% saying they would disapprove of sheriffs and prosecutors opposing it.

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