On Wednesday, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton released the following statement regarding medical marijuana. All formatting found below is consistent with the original release.
"I have the deepest sympathy for children and adults, who are afflicted with serious diseases, and for their parents who must suffer with them. My comment yesterday, in which I referred to ‘the advocates who want to legalize medical marijuana and be able to smoke marijuana plants and leaves…' was in no way intended to refer to victims of terrible diseases or their parents, who I was trying to help. I regret that my words were unclear.
"Two weeks ago, I met with some of those parents, as well as some adult sufferers, and was deeply moved by their anguish. My Commissioner of Health, Chief of Staff, and other advisors made a sincere effort to find a legal means to make a form of ‘medical marijuana' available to children and youths, who might benefit from it. I regret that this proposal was rejected.
"I also regret that I have been wrongly portrayed as the sole barrier between sufferers and their access to medical marijuana. That ignores the concerns expressed by the Minnesota Medical Association, the Minnesota Psychiatric Association, and the state Commissioners of Health, Human Services, and Public Safety, and many other authorities on public health and public safety. The three commissioners recently published a commentary, which stated:
‘Research into the efficacy of any medication must take into consideration dosage, timing, drug interactions, side effects, and other factors. Medical marijuana has not gone through anything close to this rigorous process we require for even minor drugs coming to market. Giving sick people powerful chemicals to treat serious medical conditions in a non-regulated, non-controlled fashion just doesn't square with modern medical practices, much less our ethics and core values of quality care.
‘While the benefits of medical marijuana are poorly documented, there's no shortage of evidence regarding marijuana's negative effects on individuals and communities. For example:
• Marijuana can disrupt learning and impair memory;
• Marijuana can exacerbate mental illness;
• Marijuana can increase blood pressure, heart rate, and heart attack risk;
• Using marijuana during pregnancy can harm a baby's brain development;
• Marijuana can impair drivers, causing automobile crashes that kill or injure innocent people….'
"Despite these valid concerns, my administration has worked with stakeholders on all sides of this issue to find a compromise solution that can pass during this legislative session. The proposal we have drafted would provide relief to hundreds of children who suffer from intractable seizures, and has the express support of the Mayo Clinic, the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota, my administration, and the law enforcement community.
"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."