Minnesota enacts limited medical marijuana program

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota has joined the ranks of states where marijuana is a legal medicine.

Gov. Mark Dayton on Thursday signed legislation that sets up a restrictive medical marijuana program. It has tight controls over qualifying conditions and the form its available in. People won't be able to smoke it legally or access it in leaf form.

"I thank everyone who worked together to craft and pass this legislation." said Governor Dayton in a written statement. "I pray it will bring to the victims of ravaging illnesses the relief they are hoping for."

The compromise bill upset some medical marijuana advocates, who say many people who need relief won't get it.

"Many seriously ill Minnesotans and their families have been waiting a long time to reach this point," said Heather Azzi, political director for Minnesotans for Compassionate Care. "The new law holds promise for many seriously ill Minnesotans, but it also leaves many behind."

Azzi says the version of the legislation that Dayton signed will not provide relief for individuals suffering from intractable pain, nausea, wasting, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

But legislative backers say it is a positive first step that satisfied concerns of law enforcement and doctor groups.

The law sets up a task force to assess the impact of medical cannabis.

If all goes as planned, the drug will be available in pill and oil form in mid-2015.


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