- Associated Press - Saturday, March 29, 2014
Medical marijuana penalties are mostly mellow

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - For Patrick McClellan, here’s what mitochondrial myopathy can feel like: muscle spasms that won’t stop, spreading through half his body and bursting blood vessels with their force. And being attacked by a swarm of invisible bees, their stingers piercing every uncovered spot of skin.

“But one puff from my marijuana vaporizer and it goes away - 100 percent of the time,” McClellan said.

McClellan, 47, a former chef from Burnsville, is among Minnesota residents who cope with unrelenting pain by using marijuana. With legalized medical marijuana doubtful this session, some have reacted angrily at what they say was a suggestion from Gov. Mark Dayton that they simply buy it illegally.

Some won’t, for fear of breaking the law. But many likely will because they see it as the only way to get relief and because the prospect of punishment is small.

The most recent state data show that prosecutors charged fewer than 9,100 people in each of the five years from 2009 through 2013 with the petty misdemeanor of having or selling 1.5 ounces or fewer of marijuana. It’s not clear how many of those people were using marijuana for medical reasons, because state agencies don’t track it.

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Hopes for quick pothole fix in Minn. are fading

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota drivers are dealing with one of the worst years for potholes in a generation, but hopes for a quick political fix are fading.

Transportation advocates were hoping for a large infusion of new cash for roads, bridges and mass transit, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that Gov. Mark Dayton and the Legislature won’t approve the tax increases needed to provide the funds, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported (http://bit.ly/1mfukAzhttp://bit.ly/1mfukAz ).

Minnesota’s aging highway system, which has more than 140,000 of state and local roads, is the fifth largest in the nation. Half of the pavements are at least 50 years old, and 40 percent of the bridges are more than 40 years old. Maintenance costs are growing but transportation revenues have been flat.

The House Transportation Finance Committee passed a bill this month that would have raised an estimated $550 million, much of it for infrastructure repair, in part through a 5 percent sales tax on wholesale fuels. It would have added about 12 cents to the cost of a gallon of gas.

But the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce testified against the bill, and every Republican on the committee voted against it. That prompted House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, to acknowledge it was all but dead.

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Authorities: Foley man’s death ruled a homicide

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