The deal paves the way for most restrictive such law in the U.S., aimed at helping the very ill.
Thousands of Minnesotans with cancer, HIV/AIDS, epilepsy and other conditions would be able to legally treat their symptoms with marijuana under a legislative deal struck Thursday.
The proposal will make Minnesota the 22nd U.S. state to grant some legal level of access to the drug for medicinal purposes, but also will be the most restrictive marijuana law in the country. Minnesota will be the only medical marijuana state that would forbid smoking as a form of treatment and that would bar access to the drug in plant form.
Gov. Mark Dayton, who opposed legalization of medical marijuana for much of the session, pledged to sign the bill into law.
Under the compromise negotiated between the House and Senate, an estimated 5,000 patients could begin using the drug by July 1, 2015, picking up their supply at any one of eight distribution sites across the state.
“This means the world to my family,” said Angie Weaver, a Hibbing mother whose 8-year-old daughter, Amelia, suffers from a severe form of epilepsy that causes 30 to 50 seizures a day. “This is going to change my daughter’s life, and the lives of thousands of Minnesotans.”