The Minnesota Senate gave preliminary approval to a bill by a vote of 36 to 28 that would legalize marijuana for medicinal use. The bill's sponsor is Sen. Steve Murphy, DFL-Red Wing. Supporters argue legalizing pot for patients would offer relief to Minnesotans dealing with severe pain and terminal illnesses. Opponents, including law enforcement groups, contend it would hurt drug-fighting efforts and could mean more people getting addicted to what is now an illegal drug.
Both of Rochester's senators — DFLer Ann Lynch and Republican Dave Senjem — voted against the bill.
"Just think about it. Do the people of Minnesota really want marijuana to be legalized in the name of medicine? I don't think they do," Senjem said on the Senate floor.
Local lawmakers who voted for the measure include Sen. Sharon Erickson Ropes, DFL-Winona, and Sen. Dan Sparks, DFL-Austin — along with the bill author Murphy.
A bill to legalize marijuana for medical use has passed the Senate before but has stalled in the House. If the bill does get through the legislature, it would still face a possible veto from Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty.