Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed a bill to legalize marijuana for terminally ill patients late Friday evening, saying he sides with law enforcement opposition to the bill. Bill proponents say they will introduce a constitutional amendment to bypass the governor, noting overwhelming popular support in the state on the issue.
“While I am sympathetic to those dealing with end-of-life illnesses and accompanying pain, I stand with law enforcement in opposition to this legislation,” Pawlenty said in his veto letter.
“I’m disappointed in the governor’s action, but I’m not giving up,” Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, said in a press release. “This would have been the narrowest, strictest medical marijuana law in the country, but the bottom line remains that there are patients suffering terribly who need protection, and I won’t stop till they are protected.”
Joni Whiting, whose testimony of finding marijuana for her dying daughter brought tears to many legislators’ eyes, had harsh words for Pawlenty.
“The governor thinks I’m a criminal for allowing my daughter some comfort during the last months of her life,” she said. “I don’t know how he sleeps at night, but I do know I’m not giving up until others in my daughter’s situation are protected.”
Polls show the issue is popular with voters with popular support at over 60 percent for more than a decade.
“Since the governor has refused to listen to reason or to the overwhelming majority of Minnesotans, we have no choice but to bypass him and take this directly to the people through a constitutional amendment,” said Sen. Steve Murphy, DFL-Red Wing.