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Don Davis, Published February 19 2009

Ely, Minn., man testifies in support of medical marijuana

ST. PAUL – K.K. Forss dumped a trash bag full of medicine bottles onto the floor, showing Minnesota lawmakers how he survived a serious spinal condition.

They helped the Ely, Minn., photographer survive, but his life was miserable.

“I don’t want the meds,” he said. “I don’t want drugs. I just want my life back.”

Forss was among several Minnesotans affected by painful diseases who told committee members Wednesday that they support allowing marijuana to ease pain in some circumstances.

On a 9-6 vote, with five committee members out of the room, the bill by Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, advanced to another House committee.

Medical marijuana proposals regularly surface in the Legislature, but so far have not passed, due in a large part to stiff law enforcement opposition. A similar bill is making its way through the Senate.

‘Cut our pay’

Republican lawmakers want to cut their pay, as well as that of statewide election officials such as the governor.

“At a time when the budget deficit is growing larger by the minute, legislators need to set an example in St. Paul by cutting their own compensation and that of constitutional officers,” said Sen. Geoff Michel, R-Edina.

Lawmakers earn about $30,000 annually. The governor is paid $114,288, with the attorney general, lieutenant governor, state auditor and secretary of state each earning at least $74,000.

The GOP proposal would cut pay 5 percent in the next two-year budget.


Davis works for Forum Communications Co., which owns The Forum. He can be reached at (651) 290-0707 or ddavis@forumcomm.com