Minnesota Lawmaker Wants to Strip Powers from Health Commissioner

Minnesota Lawmaker Wants to Strip Powers from Health Commissioner

When lawmakers in Minnesota enacted one of the most tightly regulated medical marijuana programs in the country in 2014, they included a limited list of qualifying conditions, but allowed the states health commissioner, who oversees the program, to add additional ailments as needed.

Lawmakers also made Minnesota the first state to explicitly ban smoking marijuana, outlining specific delivery methods in the legislation. However, the law allowed the health commissioner to authorize additional medication methods for patients.

Now, one Republican lawmaker, former House Majority Leader Rep. Matt Dean (R-Dellwood), has filed legislation that would strip the commissioner of those abilities. Rep. Deans bill, House File 120, if passed, would accomplish just that.

Even though Minnesotas medical marijuana program is one of the most stringent in the country, Dr. Ed Ehlinger, the current Minnesota Commissioner of Health, has used his authority to add conditions sparingly, and has not approved any medication methods beyond what was included in the original bill.

Because HF 120 doesnt add any language to the states medical marijuana law it simply strikes out the phrase or any other medical condition or its treatment approved by the commissioner it is possible that two ailments added by Dr. Ehlinger previously would no longer be authorized for medical marijuana use in the state, as they are not written into state law.

In 2015, intractable pain was authorized for medical marijuana use, and in December of last year, Dr. Ehlinger announced that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) would be added to the list of qualifying conditions that already includes cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Tourette syndrome, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS / Lou Gehrigs disease), seizures (including epilepsy), severe and persistent muscle spasms (including multiple sclerosis), inflammatory bowel disease (including Crohns disease), and any other terminal illness where a patient has a probable life expectancy of less than one year.

Rep. Dean, who chairs the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee, told Minnesota Public Radio that the legislature should make decisions, not the commissioner. His goal is to prevent any changes or modifications to the 2014 law passed in the state.

There is a slant toward expansion of legalization of marijuana, of different ways that you can get marijuana for different stuff, Dean said. Thats going to keep expanding until you can smoke it, until its legal for recreational ...

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