On Monday both houses of the Minnesota legislature approved a medical marijuana bill that Gov. Tim Pawlenty promises to veto. Legislators narrowed the bill to address concerns raised by law enforcement officials, eliminating a provision that would have allowed patients to grow their own cannabis (they would have to buy it from state-licensed dispensaries instead) and restricting its application to terminally ill patients suffering from debilitating conditions. According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the latter change "removes medical marijuana eligibility for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy who need the drug to combat nausea"—remarkable if true, since this is one of the most common and best validated medical uses for the drug. (It was the indication for which the FDA initially approved Marinol, a capsule containing synthetic THC.) Despite the amendments, Pawlenty is committed to nixing the bill, though he claims to have "great empathy for the sick." The Marijuana Policy Project's Bruce Mirken comments:
Tim Pawlenty, Minnesota's Republican governor (pictured above), has "great empathy for the sick." I know it's true because he said so.
He just thinks they belong in jail if they need medical marijuana.
He announced his intention to veto the medical marijuana bill at his news conference today. Then, amazingly, he went on to wax rhapsodic about how "The sky is blue, the sun is out. The minds of Minnesotans are turning to Memorial Day, summer, fishing."
Tell that to Joni Whiting, whose daughter Stephanie gained some comfort and the ability to eat from medical marijuana during the last months of her doomed struggle with melanoma. Pawlenty thinks it's just fine to treat Joni, Stephanie, and others in that dreadful situation as common criminals….
Pawlenty reportedly has national ambitions. Maybe he thinks there's a large block of voters out there who think cancer patients belong in jail. Or maybe he's just heartless.
Medical marijuana activists, who have been trying to pass a bill in Minnesota for a decade, say they will consider a ballot initiative if Pawlenty delivers on his threat.