Lawmakers have scheduled a news conference for Thursday afternoon to announce a bipartisan agreement on medical marijuana legislation.
The agreement will be unveiled at the Capitol at 1:30 p.m., according to news release from the state Senate.
It would need to be adopted by a conference committee and passed by the Minnesota Senate and House before Gov. Mark Dayton could sign it into law.
The Senate passed a bill this month from Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, that would make medical marijuana available to certain patients through a network of at least 24 dispensaries. Patients would need a physician’s recommendation, and an ID card issued by the Minnesota Department of health.
A House bill from Rep.
Carly Melin, DFL-Hibbing, would have the Health Department select and regulate one marijuana manufacturer that would operate up to three pickup centers. A smaller number of patients could participate, and would be enrolled in a research registry.
Each chamber passed its own version of medical cannabis legislation last week with large majorities. Lawmakers must adjourn by Monday, which means the clock is ticking.
Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia already have laws creating comprehensive programs for patients’ access to medical marijuana. The issue has been pushed to the forefront in Minnesota and other states this year by families seeking access to medical cannabis for children with severe seizure disorders.
Children take marijuana in a liquid form, and families say the treatment is superior to traditional pharmaceuticals that offer little relief and significant side effects. Similar concerns have prompted lawmakers in seven states this year to create laws that provide limited access to a form of medical marijuana that’s thought to help with seizure disorders.
The House bill provides medical cannabis to patients with seizure disorders and seven other diagnoses. The Senate bill essentially covers the same eight conditions, but also would help patients with intractable pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, severe nausea and wasting syndrome.
Neither bill allows patients to smoke marijuana, while both bills would let patients use cannabis in the form of liquids and pills. They differ when it comes to vaporization of marijuana — only the Senate bill would let patients vaporize marijuana plant materials, whereas the House would let patients vaporize only liquids and pills.
Christopher Snowbeck can be reached at 651-228-5479. Follow him at www.twitter.com/chrissnowbeck.
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