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Parents of Children With Epilepsy Slam Minnesota Governor For Obstructing Widely Supported Medical Marijuana Legislation

HF 1818 would allow people with debilitating conditions to access medical marijuana; to appease law enforcement groups, Gov. Mark Dayton proposed an alternative measure that would not allow patients to access medical marijuana — then he accused the parents and advocates supporting HF 1818 of opposing legislation that would help kids suffering from epilepsy

Parents tell Gov. Dayton to 'put special needs ahead of special interests'

ST. PAUL — Parents of children suffering from epilepsy slammed Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton at a news conference Wednesday for obstructing HF 1818, a widely supported bill that would allow people with debilitating conditions to access medical marijuana. They also called on the governor to "put special needs ahead of special interests" and criticized him for trying to appease law enforcement groups — which have steadfastly opposed any workable medical marijuana legislation — by proposing an alternative measure that would not actually allow patients to access medical marijuana.

"The governor seems to understand that medical marijuana can help children like my son," said Angela Garin, a St. Paul woman whose son, Paxton, suffers from epilepsy. "I hope he will do the right thing and stop blocking the bill that would actually allow them to use it."

HF 1818, introduced last year by Rep. Carly Melin (DFL-Hibbing), would allow people suffering from specific debilitating conditions, such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, and epilepsy, to access and use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it. The Department of Health would issue medical marijuana ID cards to patients and establish a tightly regulated system of medical marijuana dispensaries and quality control labs. The House Health and Human Services Policy Committee approved the bill earlier this month.

Gov. Dayton's alternative proposal would direct funding to research into the anti-epileptic properties of a specific strain of marijuana, but would not provide a mechanism for patients or their caregivers to actually obtain medical marijuana. The governor has said he will only approve a medical marijuana bill if it has the support of law enforcement groups, but they have steadfastly opposed any workable medical marijuana legislation.

"Minnesotans with debilitating medical conditions and their families should not have to take a backseat to politics," said Jessica Hauser, a Woodbury woman whose son, Wyatt, suffers from epilepsy. "It’s time for Gov. Dayton to put special needs ahead of special interests and support effective medical marijuana legislation."

Parents of children with epilepsy informed the governor and his staff that they opposed his proposal because it would not help their children or others who could benefit from medical marijuana. During a Tuesday radio interview, Gov. Dayton accused supporters of HF 1818, including the parents of children with epilepsy, of opposing legislation that "would help hundreds of kids that are suffering from epilepsy."

"We informed Gov. Dayton that we cannot get behind his unworkable proposal when there is a bill on the table that would actually help our children," said Maria Botker, a Clinton woman whose daughter, Greta, suffers from epilepsy. "He responded by taking to the airwaves to accuse us of opposing legislation that would help our children.

"For Governor Dayton to say he is working in the best interest of my daughter is disingenuous," Botker said. "For him to say I am working against the best interest of my daughter is reprehensible."

Minnesotans for Compassionate Care (MCC) is a coalition of organizations, medical professionals, patients, and concerned citizens working to protect people with cancer, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, and other serious illnesses from arrest and imprisonment for using medical marijuana with their physicians’ advice. For more information visit http://www.MNcares.org.

 

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