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December 18, 2014

Minnesota doctors oppose medical marijuana bill

The Minnesota Medical Association has come out in opposition to a bill in the Legislature that would legalize marijuana for medicinal use in Minnesota. The association’s board of trustees made the decision during a meeting Saturday, MPR News reports.

Minnesota physicians want more clinical information about the potential benefits and risks of medical marijuana before they can support its use, Board Chair Dr. David Thorson told MPR .

“We don’t have the evidence and the science to really say where it works well and where it doesn’t, and we don’t have a way of knowing at this point in time what the availability of the drug is and the product that’s being used,” he said.

The board did support the reclassification of medical marijuana to allow for clinical and public health research, according to a statement released Tuesday.

The board’s action came after the MMA conducted an email survey of nearly 900 physicians across the state. About 46 percent of doctors who replied said they opposed the legislation. About one-third said they supported the bill, 10 percent were undecided and another 9 percent asked the group not to take a stand on the issue.

The outlook for the medical marijuana bill in the Legislature is unclear, since law enforcement agencies in Minnesota remain adamantly opposed to it.

Gov. Mark Dayton had said previously that he won’t sign the bill unless law enforcement agrees to it. But he softened his position somewhat after meeting with supporters of medical marijuana last week. Afterward he asked his chief of staff and health commissioner to see if a compromise agreement could be reached, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

In an attempt to win support from law enforcement groups, the bill’s author, Rep. Carly Melin, DFL-Hibbing, said she offered to drop provisions in the bill that would have allowed some patients to grow marijuana plants at home. She also offered to prohibit smoking marijuana, while allowing use by vaporization.

But law enforcement groups said the concessions didn’t go far enough.