Minnesota Wants To Legalize Medical Marijuana, But Police Agencies Are In The Way

02/24/2014 03:16 pm ET | Updated Feb 25, 2014

Minnesota will consider passing legislation to legalize the medical use of marijuana, but police agencies are standing in the way.

A bill in the state House of Representatives would legalize the possession and use of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for people suffering from a range of medical conditions including cancer, Tourette's syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder or any other medical condition approved by the state Commissioner of Health.

Patients would first need to obtain an ID card by getting written certification from a doctor, says measure HF 1818, which was introduced by Rep. Carly Melin (D-Hibbing) last spring.

There's evidence that state politicians are open to passing such a bill. A similar effort was approved by the Minnesota House and Senate in 2009 before being vetoed by then-Governor Tim Pawlenty (R).

This time around, Governor Mark Dayton (D) says he'd sign the bill -- but not without the support of Minnesota law enforcement agencies. So far, not a single agency has lent its support to the bill. Their opposition, according to a report in local paper St. Cloud Times, is based on fears that marijuana's medical benefits are still unproven, that any legalization effort will increase the drug's availability to kids and that the bill is too broad in listing qualifying conditions.

The head of one police agency put it another way: He openly admitted that he was worried legalizing weed for medical purposes might make it harder for police to get federal drug war dollars. Minnesota receives millions in anti-drug money from the White House every year, and asset seizures from drug raids have become an integral part of state police budgets, Politics In Minnesota reported earlier this month.

As a result, Melin has said she may draft a compromise bill to legalize marijuana extracts in pill or liquid form. While such a law would be much more restrictive in terms of which patients could receive cannabis for treatment, some law enforcement agencies have said they might be open to such a measure.

"Obviously any compromise ... [is] disheartening for patients," Melin told the La Crosse Tribune. "But we’re facing reality around here, which is if we can get anything done there’s going to have to be compromise."

Minnesota voters, on the other hand, have shown they overwhelmingly support legalizing medical marijuana in all its forms. A St. Cloud State University poll from last year found 76 percent support for the issue.

HF 1818 has been referred to the Health and Human Services Policy Committee and is scheduled to have a hearing Wednesday evening. Melin said her compromise bill could be ready as soon as next week.

Also on HuffPost:

  • Strains of Kaboom and Blue Mystic!
    Nothern Lights Natural Rx
    The two strains (the latter of which is pictured here) are among those most popular at Northern Lights Natural Rx, says co-owner Eva Woolhiser. But when it comes to edibles, she said customers will go for "anything."
  • The Ominously-Named 'Death Star' Strain!
    Dank Colorado
    Owner Justin Jones of Dank Colorado: "Our Death Star [strain] has been really popular."
  • And Blue Daddy and Mr. Pink Too!
    Sean Barbas
    "Our in house strains like Blue Daddy and Mr. Pink (pictured here) have been really popular,” Mile High Medical Cannabis store manager Sean Barbas said. "It’s been nuts”
  • 'Euphoric' Cannabis Concentrate!
    At The Health Center, owner Tiffany Goldman said a product called Shatter was the top choice among recreational customers before it sold out. Officially known as a cannabis concentrate, it's a form of hash and "according to most people it's more euphoric.
  • Blue Kudu Chocolate!
    Bluekudu.com
    The edible has been especially popular at Kine Mine, but customers shouldn't get in over their heads. "We’ve been warning people about the potency," CEO and founder Theran Snyder said.
  • Pop Rocks Candy Bars!
    Incredibles
    "Edibles have been flying off the shelves," Denver Kush owner Darin Smith said. "We’ve found particular success with the Incredibles Fireworks bar. It’s got chocolate mixed with pop rocks and the packaging is just great."
  • Weed Flowers!
    Tim Cullen
    “Cannabis flowers have been flying out the door," Evergreen Apothecary co-owner Tim Cullen said. "People have been waiting two hours for just two minutes in the store and couldn’t be happier for it.”
  • Weed Sodas!
    AP
    THC-infused sodas are displayed for sale in a cooler at The Clinic, a Denver-based marijuana dispensary with several outlets.
  • Something Called a TKO Bar, Whatever That Is!
    Hank Borunda
    "The TKO bar is most popular amongst patients," The Greener Side Owner Hank Borunda wrote in an email to HuffPost.
  • Here's What A Weed Menu Looks LIke!
    AP
    A recreational marijuana menu and price list sits on a counter at 3D Cannabis Center.
  • And Some Normal Bagged Weed!
    Seth McConnell/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
    Packages of marijuana labeled for recreational use are spread out on a counter at Northern Lights Cannabis Co in Edgewater, Colorado on January 1, 2014.
  • And Of Course, Just Plain, Old Weed Cigarettes!
    AP
    Different strains of marijuana are displayed for sale at The Clinic in Denver.

YOU MAY LIKE

CONVERSATIONS