MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The push to legalize recreational marijuana in Minnesota is moving forward.
The bill would legalize adult use of cannabis and expunge criminal records. Veterans told a House committee Tuesday why it should be more widely accessible.
Legalizing recreational marijuana in Minnesota is a hot button topic at the State Capitol. For some veterans, including Alex Miller, it could be life-changing.
"Daily I deal with excruciating back pain," Miller said.
He said he was a combat medic in the National Guard.
"I pushed through every ounce of pain to the point where I was breaking myself," Miller said.
He testified that marijuana was the one thing that paused his pain.
"I decided to try it even though I was in the military at the time, and I was up and walking around the next day. The pain wasn't gone, but it helped," Miller said.
He's now considering moving to Colorado, where recreational marijuana use is legal. Jeremy Moen says he was removed from enlistment due to marijuana use, and says he needs it to get through some days.
"I usually always have a little bit of cannabis with me, and one puff and I can go about whatever I'm doing, and it gives my brain enough time to shut up, shut off and go do what I can do," Moen said.
While PTSD and some types of pain is covered under the state's medical marijuana program, veterans and supporters say it needs to be more accessible and affordable. Jeremy Sansky is with Minnesota Veterans for Cannabis.
"This is a quality of life issue for veterans," Sansky said.
But not everyone agreed, including attorney Michael Daub.
"We all want to help veterans, but marijuana legalization and commercial sale may actually do more harm than help," Daub said.
Still, House lawmakers voted in favor of moving forward seven to five. For now, the issue will continue to be debated.
While the bill has advanced in the House, a Senate spokesperson said its position hasn't changed, saying Republican leadership does not consider legalizing recreational marijuana as a priority.
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