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Nornes against legalizing medical marijuana

Published 10:02am Monday, March 31, 2014 Updated 12:03pm Monday, March 31, 2014

Legalizing medical marijuana has become a hot-button issue across Minnesota. Recreational marijuana use is legal in Colorado and Washington, and medical marijuana is legal in 20 other states.

State Rep. Bud Nornes, R-Fergus Falls, is against legalizing medical marijuana, and according to him, he’s not alone.

“I think if a vote was taken today, it would not pass,” he said. “There’s a lot of support for it, but there’s a lot of questions about it, as well.”

He understands it’s an emotional issue for those who believe medical marijuana is the answer for easing pain. But he also said it’s an unproven science.

“It’s a very emotional issue for those that believe it’s the answer,” Nornes said. “There needs to be more done to study that. It will take awhile before I think Minnesota will have that passed. It’s one of those proposals down here that’s not necessarily party line.”

Gov. Mark Dayton came under fire Wednesday from the parents of children with disabilities who want access to medical marijuana.

They accused Dayton of standing in the way of legislation to legalize medical marijuana and of bowing to law enforcement opposition. Dayton claimed the advocates misunderstood his recent comments, and said that he still wants to find a compromise this session.

During an interview this week, Dayton was asked about medical marijuana and said the prospects for a medical marijuana bill this session were slim to none because some advocates, including the bill authors, weren’t interested in his recent proposal for a $2 million Mayo Clinic study. He said the study would look at a marijuana extract to see if it could relieve the symptoms of epilepsy in small children.

“I’m mystified that people who want more than that in the legislation could be opposed to something that could help hundreds of kids that are suffering from epilepsy,” Dayton said.

Some of the parents of children suffering from epilepsy, including Maria Botker, of Clinton, Minn., did not like what they heard, believing that Dayton was blaming them for the bill’s poor chances.

“I would do absolutely anything to help my daughter, and so would every single one of these parents here,” Botker said. “For the governor to suggest otherwise is absolutely ridiculous.”

Botker said her daughter, Greta, has been living in Colorado since November to have legal access to marijuana, and the treatment has dramatically reduced her seizures.

Botker supports research but needs access now, she said.

“Gov. Dayton, you just received some of the best health care that this state has to offer,” she said, referring to his recent hip surgery. “I want you to allow my daughter to have that same privilege. Please, please just help us now, please.”

Advocates claim Dayton’s proposal for a study is flawed because researchers would have trouble getting marijuana to test.


By Heather Rule and wire services

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