Minn. Lawmakers to Introduce Medical Marijuana Bill Thursday

Updated: 05/02/2013 7:44 AM KSTP.com By: Naomi Pescovitz

A bill legalizing medical marijuana is back in Minnesota. On Thursday, a group of lawmakers from both parities will introduce legislation that would allow Minnesotans to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it.

If passed, pot would only be available for patients with certain conditions like cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS or multiple sclerosis. The Department of Health would issue special ID cards and regulate the number of dispensaries.

"It will be the most restrictive bill in the United states for medical marijuana. It's going to be more restrictive than any other bill in any other state," said Rep. Tom Hackbarth, R-Cedar, who is one of the bill's authors.

When Kathy Rippentrop's mother Jane was diagnosed with colon cancer, she was given one year to live. She survived four and a half years.

"It was very hard to see somebody that fun-loving that sick. We're a fun family, we wanted to bring the fun back," Rippentrop said.

Rippentrop says those final years were made better because her mom smoked marijuana to help her symptoms.

"It brought her back to normal, it made her feel good, it made her laugh. It made her be able to spend her last years going out to eat with all of us kids, going shopping with us," Rippentrop said.

The Minnesota bill would allow patients to grow marijuana if they live more than 15 miles from a dispensary.

Law enforcement groups like the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association oppose legalizing pot for any reason. In 2009, they said the bill would, "negatively impact law enforcement's ability to efficiently and effectively investigate the unlawful cultivation, distribution, and possession of marijuana."

It is unlikely the bill will move forward during this legislative session. Supporters are hoping it will gain momentum over the summer when they can work out any differences.

Governor Mark Dayton has said he would resist such a law without law enforcement support.