MINNEAPOLIS May 29 Minnesota Governor Mark
Dayton on Thursday signed into law a bill legalizing medical
marijuana in liquid or pill form for a limited number of
residents suffering from severe or fatal illnesses.
With Dayton's signature, Minnesota joins more than 20 U.S.
states that have approved medical marijuana and cannabis
programs, according to the National Conference of State
"I pray it will bring to the victims of ravaging illnesses
the relief they are hoping for," Dayton said in a statement.
Minnesota lawmakers earlier in May approved the measure on
bipartisan votes and the law calls for medical cannabis to be
distributed in the state, starting by July 1, 2015.
Opponents of the bill had expressed concern it could lead to
wider use of the drug, particularly among children, and would
serve as a first step toward legalization of marijuana for
recreational use in Minnesota.
Colorado and Washington state originally approved marijuana
for medical uses before legalizing recreational use of the drug
and other states also are considering legislation.
Some supporters objected to the Minnesota law's limits on
the number of conditions covered, its prohibition on use of the
marijuana leaf and a ban on smoking cannabis.
About 5,000 patients could apply to the state to enroll in
the program, though enrollment is not capped and Minnesota will
collect data on their response to the drug, the state health
department has said.
The conditions covered include cancer; seizures including
epilepsy; glaucoma; multiple sclerosis and other disorders that
cause severe muscle spasms; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; HIV;
AIDS; and Crohn's disease.
(Reporting by David Bailey; editing by Gunna Dickson)