ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota lawmakers struck a deal Thursday to legalize medical marijuana that would set up eight distribution sites and allow qualified patients to use the drug in oil, pill and vapor form.
The agreement was crafted to suit concerns of Gov. Mark Dayton, who supports it.
“I look forward to signing this bill into law,” Dayton said in a news release.
Final votes are scheduled Friday in both the Minnesota House and Senate.
The compromise bridges differences between a restrictive House bill and a relatively expansive Senate bill. Under the agreement, two manufacturers would be able to grow the drugs and run a total of eight distribution centers.
Marijuana in leaf or plant form would not be allowed, and smoking the drug would be banned.
Medical conditions for which marijuana would be permitted to treat symptoms include cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, Tourette’s Syndrome, seizures and Crohn’s Disease among others.
“People in Minnesota who are suffering today who have no good options or options at all can have the hope of gaining some relief,” said Sen. Scott Dibble, a Minneapolis Democrat.
Parents of severely ill children who have spent much of the year at the state Capitol testifying at hearings and watching the bill move along were overjoyed by the result.
“This will change my daughter’s life and thousands of lives around Minnesota,” said mother Angie Weaver of Hibbing, whose 8-year-old daughter is afflicted by a rare form of epilepsy.
The bill represents the culmination of years of effort by advocates to make the medical use of marijuana legal in Minnesota. Twenty-one other states and the District of Columbia allow medical marijuana.
Law enforcement had pushed for tight controls on the drug in return for the removing their opposition to legalization.
Associated Press reporter Brian Bakst contributed to this report.
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