Minnesota senate passes medical marijuana bill

Minnesota senators passed a bill Tuesday legalizing physician-prescribed medical marijuana to patients.

According to Reuters, the legislation was approved with a 48-18 vote. Minnesota joins 20 other US states that have legalized medical marijuana.

Under this bill, patients who are suffering will have the right to use marijuana in the form of pills, oil, or vapor, but will not be able to smoke it. Patients would be able to possess up to 2.5 grams at a time.

In order to obtain medical marijuana, patients must be first be evaluated by a doctor and be suffering from conditions caused by cancer, epilepsy, or glaucoma.

This measure has since come under fire from law-enforcement groups who believe the bill will encourage an increased distribution of the drug.

“We're tremendously opposed to the Senate approach," executive director of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, Dennis Flaherty said, reports The Associated Press. "The House bill is much different. In that bill, you do not get raw crude marijuana. In the Senate bill, (patients) are allowed to have 2.5 ounces of marijuana."

Under the proposed House bill, patients would only be able to obtain marijuana from one facility, while the Senate bill will allow 55 centers to produce and distribute starting on July 1, 2015.

Medical patients are also skeptical about the bill, which prohibits the smoking of marijuana, because smoking is a method that offers relief immediately and does not require a vaporizer, which can often be very expensive.

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