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House Approves Medical Cannabis Therapeutic Research Act

Friday, May 9, 2014


With support from Rep. Jay McNamar, changes could have helpful impacts on local families

ST. PAUL, MN – Today, the Minnesota House of Representatives approved the Medical Cannabis Therapeutic Research Act (SF 2470) with bipartisan support by a vote of 86-39. The Minnesota Medical Association, Minnesota Nurses Association and the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Minnesota support the bill. Law enforcement does not oppose the bill.

Chief author State Representative Carly Melin (DFL – Hibbing) says the bill will provide safe and legal access to medicine that can improve the quality of life of patients with serious medical conditions across Minnesota.  State Rep. Jay McNamar (DFL- Elbow Lake) supported the bill to reunite Minnesota families who have been separated in an effort to seek legal medical treatment for their children.

“I’ve had the opportunity to meet with patients and families across the state and they have truly convinced me that this is a medicine that can improve their lives and the lives of their loved ones,” said Melin.

Rep. McNamar became involved in the issue after meeting the Botkers, a Clinton-area family with a 7-year-old daughter, Greta, suffering from a catastrophic form of epilepsy called Lennox Gastaut.  Mark and Maria Botker have been taking turns living with their daughter Greta at a second home in Colorado, where she has been able to access medical treatment using a marijuana-derived medication called “Charlotte’s Web”, named after a little girl with a similar illness.

“The Botkers aren’t the only family struggling with this right now,” said Rep. McNamar. “Families shouldn’t be forced to choose between their homes, families, and livelihoods just to get treatment for their children.  There is no reason that families in our state should have to make that choice.  I salute Rep. Melin for her hard work on this issue, and for crafting a bill that everyone, including law enforcement, can feel good about.  I also want to thank the families of these kids, who have been tireless advocates for their loved ones.  I know this hasn’t been easy for them.”

“There are other kids across our state facing this same sort of turmoil,” said Rep. Melin. “After trying every pharmaceutical possible, some with severe side effects, they have been unable to control their seizures or regain cognitive skills. In other states, medical marijuana is helping children like Greta. Minnesotans want their children and their loved ones to be able to access medicine in Minnesota that can help improve their quality of life. They can’t wait any longer.”

Melin’s bill implements an observational research study for medical cannabis and would allow limited participation only by children who are suffering and adults with severe illnesses.

Study participants will get their medical cannabis through a single manufacturer and up to two satellite distribution centers, approved and regulated by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). All cultivating, harvesting, manufacturing, packaging and processing would take place at the manufacturer site. Patients must pay a fee to participate in the registry and receive their medical cannabis. The patient registry program enables ongoing study and research of the therapeutic benefits of medical cannabis.

Other details of the bill include:

-The Medical Cannabis Therapeutic Research Act will have a fiscal impact of $2.9 million in FY 14-15 and a total of $4.9 million over the next three years.

-Participants in the patient registry program must be Minnesota residents diagnosed with one of the following qualifying medical conditions:

·         Cancer

·         Glaucoma

·         HIV/AIDS

·         Tourette’s syndrome

·         Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

·         Seizures, including epilepsy

·         Severe and persistent muscle spasms, including multiple sclerosis,

·         Crohn’s disease

-MDH estimates that 5,045 Minnesotans will enroll in the observational research study.

-Medical cannabis is allowed in liquid and pill form only. Smoking is prohibited. Vaporizing is allowed but only by using cannabis that comes in liquid or pill form. Vaporized delivery of the plant/leaf is also prohibited.

-The Commissioner may add a delivery form or a qualifying medical condition, as long as notice is provided to the Legislature and the Legislature opts not to pass legislation preventing the requested change.


Pictured below are (L to R) Greta’s aunt, Martha Schulz, who watched Friday’s vote from the Minnesota House gallery, bill author Rep. Carly Melin (DFL- Hibbing), and Rep. Jay McNamar (DFL – Elbow Lake).  Maria Botker is currently in Colorado caring for Greta.  The Botkers farm near Clinton, MN.