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Dayton names 16 to medical marijuana task force

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Gov. Mark Dayton filled out 16 slots on the new medical marijuana task force Thursday, plucking health care providers, law enforcement officers and others to monitor the new law, the West Central Tribune reports.

The task force was established as part of the medical marijuana bill signed into law earlier this year, and will investigate the medical impact of the drug. It's expected to be available in pill and oil form starting next year.

Appointed Task Force Members

James Backstrom, Hastings – MN County Attorneys Association rep.
Duane Bandel, Minneapolis – consumer
Maria Botker, Clinton – parent of patient
Dennis Flaherty, St. Paul – MN Police and Peace Officers Assoc.
Karina Forrest, White Bear Township – substance use treatment provider
James Franklin, St. Paul – MN Sheriff’s Association rep.
Dr. Pamela Gonzalez, Minneapolis – substance use treatment provider
David Hartford, St. Cloud – substance use treatment provider
Dr. Vincent Hayden, Minneapolis – substance use treatment provider
Chief David Kolb, Champlin – MN Chiefs of Police Assoc.
Doreen McIntyre, Champlin – health care provider
Jeremy Pauling, Montevideo – parent of patient
Dr. Charles Reznikoff, Minneapolis – health care provider
Laura Schwartzwald, Aitkin – pharmacist
Sarah Wellington, St. Paul – consumer
Dr. Dawn Wyllie, Bemidji – health care provider

The members serve as a cross-section of the entire debate, including two patients and two parents of patients, four health care experts, four substance abuse treatment providers and four members of the law enforcement community. See the full list at right.

The Pioneer Press notes the final member count will jump to 23, as two members from both the House and Senate will join, along with the commissioners of three departments – Health, Human Servcies and Public Safety.

Different perspectives

Jeremy Pauling, the West Central Tribune reports, is the father of a 7-year-old who suffers chronic seizures due to Battens Disease. He and his wife, Kristy, testified multiple times at the Capitol, the paper notes.

Laura Schwartzwald of Aitkin has been a pharmacist for decades, KDAL reports, and has pharmacies located in Grand Marais, Redwood Falls, Rochester, Brainerd and Worthington.

Dr. Dawn Wyllie serves as chief medical officer for the Indian Health Service office in Bemidji, the Bemidji Pioneer reports. She is also part of the U.S. Public Health Service, and has experience in preventing prescription drug abuse, the paper notes.

Dayton spokesperson Matt Swenson told the paper her experience will "add an important perspective" to the task force's work.

Dennis Flaherty of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers association told the Pioneer Press there probably hasn't been enough research overall into medical marijuana, and he hopes to serve on the task force from the view of a "rank and file" police officer.

The 16 members' appointments run until Jan. 5, 2015.

The law that was passed as viewed by many as a compromise, but some supporters of medical marijuana were disappointed it didn't go further. Legislative backers called the law a good first step that satisfies concerns of law enforcement and doctor groups.

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