Gov. Mark Dayton‘s latest effort to put the issue of medical marijuana behind him for the remainder of the 2014 legislative session hit the rocks following a Friday news conference at the Capitol.
At a press event regarding MNsure on late Friday morning, Dayton denied a claim — made by medical marijuana activists at a Wednesday press conference — that Dayton had discussed with them how they might obtain the drug illegally at little risk during a meeting with the activists at the governor’s residence on March 13. But two activists who were at that impromptu meeting have doubled down on their assertion that Dayton did discuss the subject with them — at some length, they say.
At this morning’s press availability, WCCO-TV reporter Pat Kessler broached the question with Dayton.
“Governor,” said Kessler, “the mothers of sick children a couple of days ago said that you told them to — suggested to them to buy marjiuana on the street. Did you do that?”
“No,” replied Dayton.
Kessler pressed: “You did not do that?”
“No,” Dayton repeated.
“Then what are they talking about?”
“I don’t know,” said Dayton. “I’ve said all I’m going to say about medical marijuana. You have the statement, you’ve asked questions. I’m just not going to discuss it further.”
Dayton’s account of the meeting is simply not true, say two activists who were there. One of them, Patrick McClellan, 47, who has muscular dystrophy, told PIM early Friday afternoon, “I was sitting right next to him when he said it. He said that driving back from Colorado is not like going out of the country, there are no checkpoints with drug dogs at state lines.
“I said that bringing the drug back from Colorado would be a federal offense, and he said, ‘I live in the real world, and no one would prosecute someone who was just trying to help their child.’
McClellan continued: “He told me, also, to get it on the street. His logic was, it’s just a petty misdemeanor. I told him that if I had more than an ounce and a half, it would be illegal for me to try to use a medical defense for that possession. He snapped at me that I was just making up hypotheticals.
“I have an uncle who is a retired judge in Fremont, Nebraska, and I told him what the governor said [about transporting marijuana or marijuana derivatives from Colorado]. He said he couldn’t believe that the governor of Minnesota was encouraging me to break the drug laws in his [the uncle’s] state.”
Joni Whiting, 58, whose daughter used the drug when she had melanoma — Whiting’s daughter has since died — backed McClellan’s account of the meeting. “He told one mother she should just go get the [marijuana extract] oil her kid needed and bring it back to Minnesota. He also said, and I can’t remember his quote directly, but words to the effect of, we have a good distribution system here in Minnesota and it’s only a couple hundred bucks fine.”
Whiting also corroborated McClellan’s claim about Dayton’s comment regarding the absence of checkpoints at state borders. “He also said he couldn’t have gotten through college if he hadn’t smoked it himself,” she added. “But he kind of sounded like he thought [medical marijuana proponents] just wanted to smoke it to get high. And I don’t do drugs or drink.”
Media representatives from the Dayton administration have not returned a call from Politics in Minnesota.