A Luverne couple is hoping Minnesota will create a legislative pathway legalizing medical marijuana to help their young daughter who has a rare form of epilepsy. On Friday, the Minnesota House will vote on a medical marijuana bill after the Senate overwhelmingly passed its own version earlier this week. Supporters think the stage is set for final passage in Minnesota.
Jim and Heather Johnson have a little girl with a big stake in the politics of medical marijuana.
"It's very personal for us. As a parent, you hate to see your kid suffering and pretty much like clockwork, every week, she's going to have a seizure," Jim Johnson said.
The Johnsons say a liquid form of marijuana called "Charlotte's Web" can help control their 4-year-old Luella's seizures. But the political give-and-take in St. Paul has been a frustratingly long process to a family hoping for immediate relief.
"Why would you deny people access to this medicine? That should be up to the doctor and patient, it shouldn't be dictated by your zip code," Johnson said.
The House version would place more restrictions on medical marijuana than the bill that passed the Senate.
"Assuming it passes tomorrow, or Friday, they will have to go to a compromise committee and work out the differences," Johnson said.
Law enforcement agencies here in Minnesota have been opposed to medical marijuana; saying it will lead to an increase in illegal drug use. But the Johnsons say when it comes to legalizing medical marijuana, public opinion is firmly on their side.
"With such broad support of the public, two-thirds of Minnesotans support this. Politically, it seems the smart move to make to support this," Johnson said.
The Johnsons hope public opinion will hold sway in the Minnesota House, leading to an outcome that will eventually get their daughter the medical help she needs.
"I think it's going to pass, I'm hopeful and optimistic," Johnson said.
The Senate bill passed with a veto-proof majority. That comes as a relief to the Johnsons because in the past, Governor Mark Dayton has echoed law enforcement concerns about legalizing marijuana.
To see the Senate's version of the bill, click here
To see the House's version, click here