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Dayton: Chances for medical marijuana study 'slim and none'

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Gov. Mark Dayton says prospects for a study on one type of medicinal marijuana stand between "slim and none" because advocates for broader legalization don't appear interested, the Associated Press reports, and that likely means the issue is dead for this session.

Dayton had proposed the $2 million study, which would have been conducted at the Mayo Clinic, to look at whether marijuana extracts in pill or liquid form would be effective at treating children with certain forms of epilepsy, as a compromise on the contentious issue.

Dayton said last week such research could pave the way toward allowing some forms of medical marijuana, and that law enforcement groups didn't oppose the research, the Star Tribune reports.

But Dayton told WCCO Radio Tuesday morning that advocates for full legalization of medical marijuana rejected that proposal, and so the entire issue is likely dead for this legislative session.

“I’m disappointed that the advocates who want to be able to smoke leaf marijuana are not willing to accept that,” Dayton said, according to MPR News. “The authors of the bill are not interested in carrying it forward on a more limited basis. There are people who want to smoke marijuana and that’s what they want to do legally. It’s not going to happen in this legislative session.”

Dayton has said he won't sign off on legalizing medical marijuana unless law enforcement officials approve of the measure, but they remain adamantly opposed to the idea, particularly if the marijuana would be available in smokable form. They're concerned that the drug could easily get into the hands of recreational users and create more public safety problems.

The Minnesota Medical Association also has taken a stand against the medical marijuana bill, and called for more research on the topic first.

Heather Azzi, director of the pro-medical marijuana group Minnesotans for Compassionate Care, said Dayton's proposal isn't workable because there's no legal way for researchers to have access to marijuana. She added that patients who participate would be exposing themselves to legal risk, according to the Star Tribune.

"What you need is some legal distribution network, and what the governor proposed does not include that," Azzi said. But she said her group wants to keep working the Dayton to find a compromise that would satisfy all sides.

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