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Medical marijuana compromise brings tears of happiness

District 22B Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, explains during a Thursday news conference that he changed his view on medical marijuana, and now supports it, after talking to patients and parents of children who think marijuana could help. (Don Davis/Forum News Service)

ST. PAUL — Angie Weaver shed tears, again.

“This means the world to our family,” the Hibbing mother said between tears of joy Thursday, hoping her daughter will be able to use marijuana extracts to ease up to 50 seizures she has a day. “This is going to help thousands of Minnesotans. ... My daughter is going to be able to stay in Minnesota and grow up with her cousins.”

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Amelia Weaver, 8, sat next to her mother, who has showed tears several times in the past weeks, Thursday as legislators and other medical marijuana supporters announced they have reached a compromise to allow marijuana extracts to be used to treat several medical conditions.

The Weavers and Katelyn Pauling’s family of Montevideo have become regulars in the Minnesota Capitol this year supporting medical marijuana. They have faced continual ups and downs.

“It’s been like the wildest roller coaster I’ve been on,” Katelyn’s father, Jeremy, said. “It’s taking every part of me not to cry now.”

State House and Senate votes are planned today as time runs out on the 2014 legislative session. The bill is expected to pass.

“We have all heard from people who live in our districts, people who would benefit from this legislation,” House bill author Rep. Carly Melin, D-Hibbing, said.

Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, said he started out opposing medical marijuana, even though it could help his multiple sclerosis symptoms. However, after talking to Weaver and others his mind changed.

“Meeting the individuals we’re helping, that’s what it’s all about.” Hamilton said.

About 5,000 Minnesotans a month could benefit from marijuana, state officials say.

The compromise calls for two manufacturing operations with eight distributions points around the state. The bill would not allow smoking marijuana or use of the plant, although it would allow whole-plant extracts that could make users high.

Law enforcement groups are expected to remain neutral on the issue and Gov. Mark Dayton announced his support after saying for weeks that he cannot back a medical marijuana bill that lacks law enforcement and medical organizations’ support.

“I look forward to signing this bill into law,” Dayton said, pledging that his administration “will do everything possible to implement it as swiftly and successfully as is possible.”

Rep. Dan Schoen, D-St. Paul Park, said many police officers have supported medical marijuana all along.

The Cottage Grove police officer said the bill “is the strictest and most regulated in the country.”

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.