Medical marijuana backers slam Dayton; governor urges compromise

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Advocates for medical marijuana harshly criticized Gov. Mark Dayton for his refusal to move forward with legalization despite the possibility such a bill could get passed, Northland's News Center reports.

One by one, parents of children with epilepsy spoke about their experiences during a Wednesday press conference at the Capitol, the site says.

According to MinnPost, some of the testimonies were tearful. Jessica Hauser of Woodbury detailed her son's struggle with infantile spasms, the site reports; young Wyatt can have more than 100 seizures a day, and 10 epilepsy medications and a specialized diet have not worked, she said.

The Star Tribune says the advocates "bashed" Dayton at the press conference. The mother of a daughter with epilepsy called the governor "disingenuous" for saying he is working in the best interest of her child.

Rep. Carly Malin, DFL-Hibbing, chief co-sponsoer of a bill that would legalize medical marijuana in Minnesota, said she believes she has the votes in both the House and Senate to pass the legislation this session, FOX 9 reports.

Advocates also claimed Dayton, during a meeting earlier this month that left many hopeful, suggested they buy marijuana illegally on the street for their children.

Dayton, according to the Star Tribune, says he does not and cannot advocate breaking the law, but as a father understands "parents who would do anything possible to help their children.”

The governor also released a statement saying he was moved by advocates he met with two weeks ago, and despite medical concerns about the use of marijuana, has worked with people on all sides of the issue to find a compromise for this legislative session.

He says his recent proposal – a $2 million study on marijuana extracts – "would provide relief to hundreds of children" who suffer from seizures, and has the backing of law enforcement, the Mayo Clinic and the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota.

But advocates said the proposal didn't go far enough, and one pro-legalization advocate says there's no legal way the study is workable.

In Dayton's statement Thursday, he pushed for a compromise.

“I urge stakeholders on all sides of this issue to work together on this proposal, agree on a compromise that can pass in the Legislature this session, and provide relief this year to children who will otherwise find none if we instead choose to engage in finger-pointing, and a protracted political debate,” he said.

After coming out against the legalization of medical marijuana (citing law enforcement's opposition to the move), Dayton softened his stance recently. The proposed $2 million study would look at whether marijuana extracts in pill or liquid form would be effective in treating children with certain forms of epilepsy. That could then pave the way for allowing some forms of medical marijuana.

It was essentially Dayton's 2014 compromise on the issue. But by Wednesday, Dayton said the prospects for such a study are "slim to none".

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