Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed what was considered the most strict medical marijuana bill in the country. The bill restricted use of medical marijuana to only terminally ill patients suffering a debilitating illness. A last minute amendment even removed eligibility for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy who need the drug to combat nausea. A provision allowing patients to grow their own marijuana plants was also removed in hopes of increasing the chance for approval despite concerns of a possible veto.
The Minnesota House and Senate passed the heavily restricted bill last week despite the Governor saying he did not support it. Pawlenty said that while he was “sympathetic to those dealing with end-of-life illnesses,” he felt marijuana poses “serious public safety and health risks.” Legalizing marijuana, even under limited conditions, “could serve to compound these problems,” he wrote.
Supporters are not giving up and say a 2010 Constitutional Amendment is likely. “I’m disappointed in the governor’s action, but I’m not giving up,” said Rep. Tom Rukavina (DFL-Virginia), sponsor of the House bill. “This would have been the narrowest, strictest medical marijuana law in the country, but the bottom line remains that there are patients suffering terribly who need protection, and I won’t stop till they are protected.”
“For the governor to veto this legislation even after the House narrowed it so much that thousands of suffering patients would have been without protection is just unbelievably cruel,” said Senate bill sponsor Sen. Steve Murphy (DFL-Red Wing). “Since the governor has refused to listen to reason or to the overwhelming majority of Minnesotans, we have no choice but to bypass him and take this directly to the people through a constitutional amendment.”
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