The Minnesota Medical Association says it no longer opposes the House medical marijuana bill, which is up for a vote today on the House floor.
The organization's president, Dr. Cindy Smith, sent a letter to House bill author Carly Melin, DFL-Hibbing, on Wednesday that said thanks to changes she has made to her proposal, the 9,000-member organization no longer opposes the bill. The legislation calls on the Minnesota Department of Health to establish an observational research study aimed at determining the possible clinical benefits of medical marijuana in treating various illnesses. Patients diagnosed with certain conditions, such as cancer, glaucoma or epileptic seizures, would be eligible to participate. The health department would be responsible for approving a single manufacturer to provide medical cannabis to patients. The bill also prohibits smoking marijuana and vaping using the plant leaf. It allows for the use of medical cannabis in pill or liquid form.
In Smith's letter, she said the House bill includes language to manage the quality and safety of the cannabis and no longer requires a physician's recommendation for a patient to get access to medical marijuana.
"As the MMA has previously stated, additional well-controlled studies of marijuana and related cannabinoids are needed before broader availability and use of marijuana can be supported," Smith wrote.
She added that the MMA continues to have concerns with the Senate bill, which is "overly broad in scope and prematurely labels marijuana as 'medication' to treat patients with serious illnesses and conditions."
She adds that the Senate bill "aims to insert physicians into the role of certifying the value of marijuana for patients with serious conditions — a role physicians cannot fill due to the absence of FDA approval and the federal classification of marijuana as a Schedule I (illegal) substance."
Click here to Download MMA medical marijuana letter