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Published December 07, 2012, 11:30 PM

Minnesota Gov. Dayton opposes eased marijuana laws

Advocates plan to push again in the 2013 legislative session
ST. PAUL – Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said Friday he remains resistant to decriminalizing the possession of marijuana for medical or recreational use, despite recent steps other states have taken to relax their laws.

By: Brian Bakst, Associated Press, INFORUM

ST. PAUL – Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said Friday he remains resistant to decriminalizing the possession of marijuana for medical or recreational use, despite recent steps other states have taken to relax their laws.

Dayton, a Democrat, addressed the issue in a wide-ranging interview, declaring, “I don’t think we need another drug operating in our society.”

Eighteen states allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes, and Colorado and Washington have decriminalized possession of small amounts for any purpose.

Proposals to allow medical marijuana in Minnesota have been stalled by opposition from law enforcement. But advocates plan to push again in the 2013 legislative session.

Dayton said he won’t budge unless law enforcement signs off on a deal that includes strict controls on how accessible the drug would be.

“As long as law enforcement believes whatever is being proposed is going to make society more dangerous, I’m going to honor their concerns,” Dayton said.

Dayton said he’s concerned by reports from other states where doctors have readily dispensed prescriptions.

Dayton’s remarks on marijuana drew a swift comment on Twitter from Rep. Phyllis Kahn, a Minneapolis Democrat who co-sponsored a bill to legalize it that was vetoed by then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty in 2009.

“All he may need is some experience with watching a different sort of end-of-life of someone with access to marijuana,” Kahn tweeted.

Dayton also said he would move to expand gay rights by giving public employees access to domestic partner-benefits as part of their next contract. “I’m going to do my best to put it in there,” he said.

Dayton is a gay-rights supporter who has previously pledged to sign a law legalizing gay marriage if the Legislature were to adopt one. Voters last month defeated a ballot measure that would have enshrined Minnesota’s current ban on same-sex marriage in the state constitution. That law has faced court challenges.

If the benefits are adopted, domestic partners of state employees would become eligible for family health and dental coverage.

Democrats take over the Legislature next month.


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