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Political Notebook: Dayton open to studying medical marijuana

Heather Carlson
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DFL Gov. Mark Dayton said that while he's not ready to allow medical marijuana use in the state, he would be open to a study on the issue.

During a recent interview, the governor said he has met with both supporters and opponents of medical marijuana to talk about the issue.

"I've said since I ran for office that law enforcement has enough to contend with, and I am not going to support something that has the adamant opposition of law enforcement in Minnesota, and that is still the case," he said.

Supporters of medical marijuana are expected to make a big push this legislative session to get a bill to the governor's desk. Meanwhile, law enforcement groups have vowed to fight such an effort.

The governor said he would be open to a study examining what has happened in states that allow medical marijuana use.


"I'd be supportive of funding for an independent, objective study of what other states have done, what have the results been," he said.

It's an idea the governor hasn't run by parties on both sides of the issue yet. But if a study was done, Dayton said, it would give lawmakers a chance in 2015 to have "a more factually based discussion of pros and cons and see where that leads us."

Earlier this month, Mayo Clinic President and CEO Dr. John Noseworthy was asked on NBC's "Meet the Press" for his thoughts on legalizing marijuana. Noseworthy didn't weigh in on whether it's a good idea, but suggested there would be value in researching marijuana's effects on the body. He noted the use of marijuana for medical and recreational uses dates back 5,000 years. It wasn't until 1970 it was made a Class 1 drug.

"Right now, we're in a situation where the cannabinoid system is a pain modification system.There is an important bit of research that could happen there, but the federal government, of course, has not supported that," Noseworthy said. "So there's a lot of unknowns about this."

Republicans in Rochester

Last week, the Republican Party of Minnesota announced it would hold its state convention in Rochester on May 30-31. Why the Med City? The party's chairman Keith Downey offered a few reasons.

First, it has been awhile since a Republican convention had been in Rochester, and the party likes to move these events around the state. Also, the Mayo Civic Center space was available. But beyond those logistic issues, he said Rochester makes sense as a choice because health care and Obamacare will be a major focus in the 2014 elections.

"Our perspective is that Obamacare is going to continue to show the evidence it doesn't work," he said.


Republicans will also be making the case to voters that the DFL-controlled Legislature favored the Twin Cities metro area.

"We saw the one-party Democratic rule emphasizing and benefiting the constituencies in the metro at the expense of rural Minnesotans," he said.

The Minnesota DFL is having its convention the same weekend in Duluth.

DFL Secretary of State forum

Two Democrats vying for the party's endorsement for Minnesota Secretary of State will square off in an upcoming Rochester forum sponsored by local DFLers.

Rep. Debra Hilstrom, of Brooklyn Center, and Rep. Steve Simon, of Hopkins, are both seeking to replace Mark Ritchie, who is stepping down from the post. The forum will be 2 p.m. on Sunday in the auditorium at the Rochester Public Library. The event is sponsored by Senate District 26 DFL and Olmsted 25 DFL. It is free and open to the public.

Republican Dennis Nguyen, who owns two Minneapolis financial firms, is also running for Secretary of State.

Heather J. Carlson covers politics for the Post-Bulletin and writes the Political Party blog.

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