Skip to main content

Compromise on medical marijuana in Minnesota gaining ground

  • Author:
  • Updated:

Supporters of medical marijuana say the upcoming legislative session, which opens this week, could be the best chance in years to see marijuana legalized in Minnesota for medical use.

Gov. Mark Dayton has urged supporters to negotiate with opponents in law enforcement to reach a compromise, and that effort could finally be gaining momentum, the St. Cloud Times reported.

State Rep. Carly Melin, a Hibbing Democrat who's the lead House sponsor of medical marijuana legislation, has made no progress negotiating with law enforcement groups who steadfastly oppose the move. But Melin is working on a much narrower proposal that would allow only the use of some non-narcotic, marijuana-derived chemicals, and some of those groups are willing to consider that option, MPR News reports.

The state association of police chiefs is open to discussing allowing extracts in pill, liquid or inhaler form, she said.

The Minnesota County Attorneys Association is also open to the idea. Executive Director John Kingrey said his group still opposes any bill making it legal to smoke marijuana for medicinal purposes, but extracts might be a viable compromise.

"We are very sympathetic to those individuals that suffer from debilitating conditions," he told MPR. "Marijuana has about 150 compounds in it, and if you can distill some of those elements and it does not include the THC component and if it is effective to treat certain illnesses, we would not be opposed to that."

Kingrey pointed to a recent, similar proposal in Georgia that would allow the limited use of a cannabis oil for the treatment seizure disorders.

Melin said she's glad to see both sides moving toward common ground. But she said other states that have legalized medical marijuana haven't followed this specific course so it's hard to say whether it's actually feasible, according to the Associated Press.

She also said some patients who need immediate relief or who can't swallow medication might need marijuana that can be smoked.

Minnesota lawmakers voted once before to legalize medical marijuana in 2009. But then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed the bill, citing law enforcement concerns.

Dayton expressed similar worries. He said he'd only sign a bill that the law enforcement community can support.

Law enforcement groups have said if marijuana is legalized for medical purposes it would still find its way into schools and neighborhoods. They also say marijuana's medical value remains unproven, and they worry that legalizing it under a medical exemption will lead to full legalization.

Polls consistently have shown most Minnesotans support legalizing medical marijuana.

A St. Cloud State University survey conducted last fall that asked respondents if they support “making marijuana legally available for doctors to prescribe” found a 76 percent of respondents in favor, with just 20 percent against. A Star Tribune Minnesota Poll conducted this month found a slimmer majority supporting the move, with 51 percent backing it and 41 percent opposed.

 Twenty other states and Washington, D.C., allow medical marijuana in some form.

Melin told MPR a hearing on the revised proposal will likely come soon in the House Health and Human Services Policy Committee.

Next Up

Jamal Smith

Jamal Smith sentenced to life for Plymouth road rage killing

A guilty verdict was determined by a jury this summer.


Marshall man killed in farm equipment accident

The incident remains under investigation.

Winter scene snow storm snowfall - Joe Nelson Feb 2022 10

What AccuWeather's 2022-23 winter forecast says about Minnesota

Snowier periods than normal December through February?

Daunte Wright son

Lawsuit claims Daunte Wright's child hasn't received any fundraiser money

The lawsuit was filed by the child's mother this week.

Semi truck

Driver dies after crashing into semi-tractor that tipped over into his path

The crash happened on Hwy. 212 west of the Twin Cities Monday morning.

Screen Shot 2022-09-03 at 10.43.09 PM

Scott Jensen repeats right-wing hoax about cat litter in schools

The candidate made the comments at a recent campaign event.


Ringo Starr's late cancellation of MN show was because he has COVID-19

The Beatles drummer was due to perform in Minnesota Sunday.

Screen Shot 2022-10-03 at 4.32.58 PM

Fire destroys cafe, two other business properties in downtown Fairfax

A former pizza joint was also destroyed, while two other properties were damaged.

Hennepin County Medical Center, HCMC

Woman dies from injuries in crash that killed her husband, another man

The couple in their 80s died in the collision near Lake Lillian.

CPAP masks

2 Park Nicollet employees convicted of embezzling $500,000

The pair worked at a CPAP clinic in St. Louis Park.


No Jingle Ball this year? Twin Cities left off iHeartRadio holiday tour

The annual touring event usually visits the Xcel Energy Center.