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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUND-UP: Medical marijuana bill clears another legislative hurdle

ST. PAUL --  The medical marijuana bill continues moving forward at the Capitol after passing today in the Senate State and Local Government committee. 

Assistant Health Commissioner Aggie Leitheiser says they want to see the chemicals in marijuana help make things better for suffering Minnesotans, but do not believe the bill achieves the goal of compassionate use through a scientifically-sound manner.  She also said it raises a number of administrative questions and technical concerns.  State Senator Scott Dibble says his bill is modeled after successful and conservative programs in New Mexico and Arizona.  The next stop for the medical marijuana bill is the Senate Judiciary committee.


On the same day medical marijuana is being discussed by lawmakers in St. Paul, a new study shows that it's getting mixed reviews when it comes to relieving side effects of medications for a variety of illnesses.  The American Academy of Neurology studied the science and effectiveness of weed and found that it can be helpful in treating multiple sclerosis, but it doesn't help the side effects of a drug often prescribed for Parkinson's disease.  The study also found there's not enough evidence to evaluate marijuana's effectiveness in treating epilepsy and several other diseases.  The study appears in the journal "Neurology."


A Minnesota lawmaker has introduced legislation in D.C. that would mandate any pipeline built in the U.S. be constructed only of American steel -- steel from ore that is mined, processed or reprocessed in America.  The bill also strengthens the pipeline inspection process by providing the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration with funds and authority to independently inspect a pipeline before it's installed.  Congressman Rick Nolan (DFL-Duluth) says the American Pipeline Jobs and Safety Act of 2014 is not only meant to support American steel workers and the U.S. steel industry, but it also promotes environmental safety.  Nolan says it protects the Iron Range and other areas across the U.S. from spills caused by, "Pipeline made from inferior, accident prone foreign steel dumped into U.S. markets by multi-national corporations whose only interest is making money."


A Minnesota turkey farmer is headed to Washington, D.C. to testify before the Senate Energy Committee as lawmakers investigate the causes of this winter's propane shortages.  Northfield turkey producer John Zimmerman will testify about the impact of the propane shortage on Minnesota and on his farm.  U.S. Senator Al Franken (DFL-Minneapolis) says the shortage drove up prices and hurt tens of thousands of Minnesota families, farmers, and businesses who rely on the fuel to heat their homes and power their operations.  Franken pressed for the hearing as part of an effort to look at the causes of the shortage and to identify ways to prevent future shortages.  Thursday's hearing will focus on improving the storage, infrastructure, and supply of the domestic propane industry.


Much of Minnesota is experiencing a mix of chilly precipitation today (Tue) -- and while it's not a rare weather pattern this time of year, Craig Schmidt of the National Weather Service says he understands the frustration many Minnesotans are feeling after a particularly brutal winter.  He says we're right around the temperature where we're getting a little bit of snow, a little bit of rain with these showers.  And there could be many more such days in the near future; Schmidt says the long-range forecast shows that Minnesota will experience below normal temperatures for the next several weeks.