ST. PAUL, MN — One week into the legislative session and Republicans and Democrats from the Minnesota House are starting the debate over medical marijuana expansion.
On Monday afternoon, two bills were introduced regarding the scope of medical marijuana use.
Rep. Matt Dean (R-Dellwood) introduced H.F. 120 which states: “A bill for an act, relating to health; removing the commissioner of health’s authority to add qualifying medical conditions or delivery forms of medical cannabis.”
The bill simply states the health commissioner will no longer have the authority to add medical conditions that can be treated with medical marijuana.
The medical marijuana bill, passed in 2014, grants the Minnesota Health Commissioner the ability to add conditions where medical marijuana can be used. The commissioner has added several medical conditions to the list since its implementation in 2014.
Rep. Rob Ecklund (D-International Falls) introduced a bill Monday afternoon expanding the qualified users of medical marijuana. H.F. 121 states: “A bill for an act relating to health; allowing certain patients with kidney disease or kidney failure treated with kidney dialysis to enroll in the patient registry for the use of medical cannabis.”
If Ecklund’s bill is passed, it would allow individuals with kidney issues who are on dialysis to be treated with medical marijuana.
Both bills introduced would immediately change the medical marijuana law as it stands.
Ecklund, who spoke with Alpha News said people in his district travel more than 100 miles to be treated with dialysis. The treatment often requires them to have a driver. However, due to the long journey, the anesthesia wears off causing them immense pain. Ecklund notes that the initial plan was to submit a petition with the Health Commissioner on July 1, 2017, but thought the people in his district would not want to wait that long.
“I have a lot of respect for him (Dean) and his cause,” said Ecklund. He hopes that both bills can pass together but understands the likelihood of his bill never going to committee.
Rep. Matt Dean did not return Alpha News request for comment.