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Funding for government lapses as short-term spending bill stalls in the Senate

Key House panel limits medical marijuana plan

ST. PAUL -- A key Minnesota House committee changed, and then passed, a plan making it legal for Minnesotans suffering from severe illnesses to use marijuana for pain relief.

The bill permits people with certain chronic illnesses to obtain, possess and smoke marijuana. Advocates say marijuana can relieve pain that traditional medications cannot.

The Public Safety Policy and Oversight Committee approved the bill Tuesday on a 9-6 margin after placing a two-year limit on the legislation and reducing the number of marijuana plants a patient can possess. Committee members also made it more difficult for patients to grow their own marijuana.

Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty and law enforcement groups continue to oppose the bill by Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia.

Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing, offered the amendment that imposes a two-year "sunset" on the legislation and raises the minimum age, from 18 to 21, for registered marijuana providers.

"This is my way of trying to say if all these bad things are going to happen, we have a way out," Kelly said.