ST. PAUL, Minn. - Gov. Mark Dayton Friday denied that he told the mother of a child with chronic seizures to buy marijuana from the street because medical marijuana isn't legal in Minnesota.
Jessica Hauser of Blaine said Gov. Dayton made that suggestion on March 13, the day he met privately with a group of medical marijuana backers at the Governor's Residence in Saint Paul.
The claim was widely reported March 26 after a group of mothers held a press conference at the Capitol taking Dayton to task for opposing medical marijuana.
When asked about it Friday during his own press conference Dayton flatly denied it.
"No," he said to a member of the press corps.
"You didn't tell them that?"
"No," Dayton said.
When asked what law enforcement told him about the availability of illegal medical marijuana, Dayton repeated something he'd said in a March 13 telephone conference call with the media.
"I was told that you could get it on the street in any city of any size in Minnesota. That's what I was told. I haven't verified that. I don't intend to."
That conference call was held during the hour leading up to Dayton's meeting with the parents on March 13.
During that call he told reporters he'd been told by law enforcement there's already an efficient marijuana distribution system in the state, although it's extralegal, meaning it exists outside the law. He pointed out that possession of a small amount of the drug is a petty misdemeanor.
But, later in the same conference call, he clarified to reporters that he was not advocating or condoning the idea of turning to the street to buy medical marijuana, but pointing out a reality as described to him by people in law enforcement.
Dayton at the time reminded reporters that he took an oath to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the state, so he wouldn't advocate breaking them
Jessica Hauser told KARE Friday she's disappointed with Dayton's response to the issue, and his attitudes about medical marijuana in general.
"It's clear that the governor and the people advising him are not familiar with what's happening in other states," Hauser said.
Hauser's two-year-old son, Wyatt, has epileptic seizures, and she says other children with his condition have benefited from an oil derived from the marijuana plant.
Dayton proposed a limited research study funded by the State of Minnesota, but has steadfastly opposed any legislation that would allow patients to grow it or use it in the smoked form.
At the same time he says he has sympathy for the children living with chronic seizures and the physical damage caused by those tremors, but until medical marijuana undergoes the same testing protocol as other prescription drugs he won't sign such a bill.
"I greatly sympathize with their plight. I mean, to have a child, or any loved one that's going through the kind of suffering that they are, and the anguish that brings about, is terrible to witness," he said.
"But we're making policy here, and passing laws for 5.3 million people."
Dayton said his original objection to legalizing medical marijuana was based on concerns raised by law enforcement, but he's come to see it as an issue of medical safety as well.
During his time in the US Senate Dayton donated his salary to fund bus trips to Canada by Minnesota seniors in search of lower cost prescription medications. That was during a time when Medicare didn't cover any prescription drugs.
So far no one has suggested a similar caravan of buses to states where medical marijuana is legal.