Minnesota House committee, physicians discuss medical marijuana - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Minnesota House committee, physicians weigh in on medical marijuana

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KTTC) -- The debate over medical marijuana has been in the spotlight across the country for years now, and a bill supporting it once passed both the house and senate in Minnesota before being vetoed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty in 2009.

Now the debate is back in the capitol and professional circles around the state.

It's a controversial and high profile proposal in Minnesota with support and opposition on both sides of the aisle.

The bill has also seen opposition from Minnesota law enforcement, but Tuesday, the proposition went in front of the Minnesota House Health and Human Services Committee in St. Paul, which it passed, and was debated by the Minnesota Medical Association.

It's a bill that would allow patients with certain debilitating medical conditions access to marijuana in small quantities, and it's a bill with a lot of publicity, concerns and stakeholders.

"Many people will say this is the only drug that will help them with their pain, their seizures or something like that," said Rep. Tina Liebling, DFL-Rochester.

One of those stakeholders is Liebling.

She's chair of the house committee that passed the current version of the bill, but they had one small portion of the debate to discuss.

"Not about what it will take to make sure it won't be used in other ways," Liebling said. "That is a topic for another committee."

And one of those in St. Paul to testify in support of the bill is Mary Ann Nelson of Mankato who says a distilled version of the drug would help control her 11-year old daughter's seizures.

"I don't want to move to Colorado," Nelson said. "I don't want to uproot my children and my family to go to Colorado to save my daughter's life. And that's essentially what I'm looking at doing."

The discussion is very different in Eagan where the Minnesota Medical Association met Tuesday night to discuss their position on the bill.

According to Mayo Clinic Dr. J. Michael Bostwick, it's a complicated issue for those in the medical profession. They say there's not enough science.

"The challenge here I think is to figure out how to be reasonable scientifically while we try to figure out whether we can make something useful of this substance which is used recreationally," said Bostwick.

And when it comes to the biggest healthcare provider in the state, don't expect an endorsement either way.

"Mayo has had no position on medical marijuana either in Arizona or in Rochester, and I don't expect them at the moment to take a position," said Bostwick.

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