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Dayton opposes medical marijuana, would sign bill with law enforcement support

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At a Capitol press briefing Tuesday, Gov. Mark Dayton clarified his stance on legalizing pot for medical purposes in Minnesota.

The Pioneer Press reports Dayton is still opposed to the use of medical marijuana, but said he would sign a bill legalizing the drug if law enforcement was on board.

In an interview with the Associated Press last month, Dayton said he's met with groups on both sides of the issue and has urged supporters to work with sheriffs, prosecutors and other law enforcement groups so they'll get behind legislation.

The governor told the Rochester Post Bulletin that he would also support funding for an independent study of what other states that allow medical marijuana have done. The Associated Press said 20 other states and Washington, D.C. allow marijuana for medical purposes in some form.

On Jan. 1, Colorado became the first state in the U.S. to allow the sale of recreational pot to anyone age 21 or older.

Minnesota law enforcement agencies have been against legalizing medical marijuana for years due to public safety and drug abuse concerns. Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom has been a vocal opponent of legalization, saying marijuana is an addictive gateway drug not medicine.

On NBC's Meet the Press earlier this month, Mayo Clinic President and CEO Dr. John Noseworthy said the use of marijuana for medical uses dates back 5,000 years and he supports more study on the topic.

"There is an important bit of research that could happen there, but the federal government, of course, has not supported that. So, there is a lot of unknowns about this," he said.

WCCO talked with the parents of two young children that suffer from rare forms of epilepsy. After seeing the success story of 6-year-old Charlotte Figi in Colorado, they want marijuana legalized in Minnesota.

Charlotte was having several seizures a day, sometimes lasting more than 30 minutes, one after the other. After running out of traditional medical options, Charlotte's parents found a particular strain of cannabis that curbed Charlotte's seizures.

Now, with just two daily doses of cannabis oil, Charlotte's seizures only happen two to three times per month.

Dr. Ilo Leppik, a neurology and pharmacy professor for nearly 40 years at the University of Minnesota, told WCCO that the science exists to show that marijuana can control seizures, but "I would be very careful about pushing it as a miracle cure," he said. "It doesn’t mean that everyone’s going to have the same result.”

Leppik also agrees that more study is needed.

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