Statement from Sen. Branden Petersen on Medical Cannabis
Agreement Leaves Out Thousands of People in Need
An agreement was reached today between the House and Senate Conferees regarding the legalization of medical cannabis in Minnesota. As an advocate for compassionate care from day one, and lead author on the more encompassing legislation originally introduced in the Minnesota State Senate, I am disappointed to announce that I cannot support this agreement. While this bill potentially brings much needed relief for some patients across the state, it leaves so many more without legal protections for using medical cannabis
under a doctor’s order
. Specifically, the absence of intractable pain, veteran PTSD, wasting, and severe nausea in the list of qualified medical conditions is unacceptable. Many severe pain patients have been able to significantly reduce, if not eliminate, their use of highly addictive and potentially lethal opioid prescription medications by using cannabis, a substance that has never caused a fatal overdose. Too many Minnesotans will remain in unnecessary agony for the foreseeable future. Shortcomings of this agreement also include the prohibition on using cannabis in its natural state. Only allowing extracts administered via pills and oils ignores the volumes of research demonstrating the medical benefits of natural cannabis. The severe restrictions placed on the number of medical cannabis access locations will mean that some, if not many, patients will have to travel hundreds of miles to get the treatment they so desperately need. Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of this limited proposal is that it was completely unnecessary. Over two-thirds of the state, and a majority of my legislative colleagues, support proposals that do not cost the state a cent while more efficiently protecting a greater number of patients.
Much of this “compromise” is the
direct result of hyperbole, fear, and rigid intransigence from Gov. Mark Dayton. Ignoring the overwhelming body of evidence that medical cannabis is a viable and highly effective treatment for tens of thousand of Minnesotans, the governor forced the legislature to put forward an inadequate bill that leaves so many patients and families on the outside. Gov. Dayton consistently required language that would treat medical cannabis as a highly toxic and dangerous substance and those who use it as untrustworthy drug addicts. These suggestions were, and are, far from reality. Medical cannabis has been used for thousands of years and is much less toxic and addictive than many legal prescription drugs. The patients who seek to use medical cannabis do so in order to get better, not to get high. I would like to extend my sincere thanks and deepest appreciation to the legislative leaders who fought so hard on behalf of patients. Sen. Scott Dibble and Rep. Carly