ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO/AP) — Parents in support of legalizing medical marijuana say Gov. Mark Dayton urged them to buy pot illegally on Minnesota streets to help their severely sick children.
At an extremely emotional press conference Wednesday, the parents called Dayton's suggestion offensive. Struggling to hold back tears, the parents accused the governor of using them as political cover, so that he might to look good while opposing the medical marijuana bill they sought.
"Please…can you please help us now," cried mother Maria Botker of Clinton, Minn.
These parents had picketed outside the governor's residence two weeks ago, and were unexpectedly invited inside. There, they told the governor their stories. They say they were shocked when the governor suggested they can buy pot illegally on the street, or in another state, to treat their children.
"That's absurd," said Jessica Hauser of Woodbury, whose her 2-year-old son has intractable epilepsy. "And to have the top official in Minnesota suggest that to my face when I am looking for compassion and a thoughtful solution. It's just completely offensive."
The marijuana controversy is bubbling just below the surface at the Capitol, where supporters say there are enough votes in the House and Senate to pass it. But frustrated lawmakers carrying the bill believe it faces a veto from Dayton.
The governor does not deny he told at least one of the parents to buy illegal pot off the street. However, he said in a statement Wednesday that he does not advocate breaking the law.
"But as a father, I understand parents who would do anything possible to help their children," the statement said.
Despite his previous opposition to the bill, the governor is proposing a $2 million study on the medical benefits of marijuana, using children and pills only.
But the parents say a study is not enough for their children, who need medical marijuana now, and some families say they'll move out of Minnesota to get it.
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