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Medical marijuana bill takes another step forward

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A bill to legalize medical marijuana in Minnesota has passed a second committee in the state Senate.

The Senate's State and Local Government Committee approved the measure Tuesday. Last week, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee approved the bill.

The bill would give Minnesotans with debilitating medical conditions, such as cancer, HIV, epilepsy, glaucoma, and severe pain access to marijuana if their doctors recommend it, WXOW says.

The bill gives the Minnesota Department of Health and Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger oversight, including the power to add medical conditions that would be eligible for medical marijuana, FOX 9 reports. The Health Department would issue medical marijuana ID cards to patients and establish a tightly regulated system of alternative treatment centers (also known as dispensaries) and quality control labs, the Northland News Center says.

There are some concerns over medical marijuana, however. Assistant Health Commissioner Aggie Leitheiser testified that Ehlinger continues to have concerns that not enough research data exists to show marijuana is effective as medicine, the Associated Press says.

Gov. Mark Dayton has been wary of throwing his support behind the measure without the backing of law enforcement and further testing.

Minnesotans, however, seem to approve the measure – a poll conducted at the beginning of April found that 68 percent of Minnesotans support medical marijuana.

The proposal is scheduled to be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, according to the Pioneer Press. A companion bill in the House remains stalled.

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