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Dayton to lawmakers: Stop hiding on medical pot

In response to yet another question about his position on medical marijuana, Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday punted the issue back to the Legislature and accused lawmakers of “stand[ing] on the sideline.”

“Let’s see ‘em vote. They’ve hidden behind their desks the whole session,” Dayton said at a press conference at the Capitol. Dayton said the issue won’t go anywhere “unless there is legislative support.”

The issue has been troublesome for the governor, who has repeatedly indicated that he won’t support any legalization measure that does not have the support of law enforcement groups.

That stand has fueled a rising tide of criticism from medical marijuana advocates, who squarely rejected the governor’s earlier proposal for a limited study examining the efficacy of marijuana extracts in treating a particular form of childhood epilepsy.

On Tuesday, Minnesotans for Compassionate Care released a second television advertisement that explicitly takes the governor to task for his position.

The 30-second spot, which was scheduled to run on several late night talk shows and morning news programs in the following 24 hours, features Patrick McClellan, a Bloomington man with a rare form of muscular dystrophy. McClellan says medical marijuana relieves his pain and muscle spasms more effectively than any conventional prescription drug.

“I am a patient, not a criminal,” McClellan says in the ad. “We deserve better. Minnesota deserves better. Tell Governor Dayton to stop blocking access to medical marijuana.”

McClellan was among the medical marijuana advocates who, after meeting privately with Dayton, claimed the governor told them they could obtain marijuana with little legal risk. Dayton later denied making that statement.

In a related development on Tuesday, Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, introduced an amendment to a House health policy omnibus bill that would provide some seriously ill people with access to marijuana extracts.

The amendment mirrors a stand-alone bill authored by Rep. Carly Melin, DFL-Hibbing, which stalled earlier this session after numerous compromises failed to quell opposition from top law enforcement groups.

The bill that would have been the vehicle for Garofalo’s amendment was originally scheduled for a floor vote on Wednesday but was quickly pulled from the docket. House Majority Leader Erin Murphy released this statement through House DFL communications staff:

“We appreciate the Governor’s work to find a compromise that will help the families with kids with epilepsy. We share that goal, and believe there is an opportunity to work in partnership with the administration to reach a solution, but taking up Rep. Garofalo’s amendment will not help us achieve that result.”

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