Posted at: 04/29/2014 11:29 AM
Updated at: 04/29/2014 10:55 PM
By: MIKE CRONIN, Associated Press
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A Minnesota state Senate panel approved legislation on Tuesday that would legalize medical marijuana.
The proposal is scheduled to be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. The House version of the measure remains stalled and its prospects are uncertain.
Sen. Scott Dibble, a Minneapolis Democrat sponsoring the bill, testified on Tuesday before the State and Local Government Committee that state Health Commissioner Dr. Edward Ehlinger would have broad authority in creating Minnesota's medical-marijuana program.
Ehlinger's powers would include establishing the list of debilitating conditions that would qualify for pot treatment and conducting background checks on those working at and associated with facilities that grow and dispense the marijuana.
Assistant Health Commissioner Aggie Leitheiser repeated during testimony Ehlinger's concern that not enough research data exists to show the effectiveness of marijuana as a medicine.
But data showing that marijuana works as medicine does exist, testified Chris Stubbs, a scientist from Colorado, who was part of the team that developed the Charlotte's Web strain of medical marijuana already used to treat epileptic patients.
"We have the ability to discern 60 active compounds in marijuana and because of that we can steer products toward epilepsy," Stubbs said. "Medical cannabis is a real efficacious treatment."
Leitheiser also raised other concerns about the program's implementation, including that the timelines outlined in the bill seemed "ambitious." The legislation targets July 1, 2015, as the date medical marijuana patients would receive identification cards that would enable them to legally buy pot.
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