Gov. Mark Dayton wants the Mayo Clinic to conduct a research trial on cannabidiol use to control seizures. But activists contend this approach doesn't work.
“Without establishing a supply of cannabis that is legal to study in Minnesota, there will be no research," says Heather Azzi of Minnesotans for Compassionate Care. “This is the major flaw with the governor’s proposal.”
Dayton has proposed a $2.2 million clinical trial that would provide CBD - the non-psychoactive chemical in cannabis - to 200 children. He acknowledges that his proposal would "need approval" by the DEA and FDA. That's the hitch Azzi is referring to. The Feds virtually never approve marijuana research.
If approved, CBD could be available to patients within eight months.
The proposal has received support from Mayo ("we welcome the opportunity to be part of this clinical research") and the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota ("we urge the legislature to adopt this innovative first step in research").
While CBD oil may help children with seizures, it's not a cure-all for all conditions. With this in mind, two bills - HF 1818 and SF 1641 - would make marijuana available for cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C. Lou Gehrig's Disease, Tourette's, Crohn's, MS, PTSD and other pain, nausea, wasting, seizure and spasm conditions. House Rep. Carly Melin's bill calls for 55 dispensaries throughout the state.
In a statement released Mar. 26, Dayton explained: "My administration has worked with stakeholders on all sides of this issue to find a compromise solution that can pass during this legislative session. I urge stakeholders on all sides of this issue to work together on this proposal, agree on a compromise that can pass in the legislature this session, and provide relief this year to children who will otherwise find none if we instead choose to engage in finger-pointing, and a protracted political debate."
Dayton stirred up a controversy when he referred to advocates "who want to legalize medical marijuana and be able to smoke marijuana plants and leaves." In the statement he apologized: "I regret that my words were unclear."
In a meeting with Dayton, Jessica Hauser, whose son suffers from spasms, says the Democratic governor "actually suggested I should just find medical marijuana for my son off the street. This is our state’s top official looking me in the eye and telling me that I should break the law to buy marijuana from an illegal drug dealer instead of being able to access it safely and legally from a tightly regulated state licensed provider as outlined in the HF 1818 bill."
Dayton contends: "I have the deepest sympathy for children and adults, who are afflicted with serious diseases, and for their parents who must suffer with them. I've been wrongly portrayed as the sole barrier between sufferers and their access to medical marijuana."