A bill to allow the seriously ill to use medical marijuana passed the state House Public Safety Policy and Oversight Committee on Tuesday, but not before fireworks erupted between law enforcement officials and Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-St. Louis, the bill’s author.
Bob Bushman, from the Statewide Gang and Drug Task Force, began his testimony by calling bill proponents liars when they said that law enforcement had not met with them to discuss concerns over the bill.
“You’ve likely heard over the last several weeks that us in law enforcement have not been willing to share our concerns with proponents of this legislation, that we have not been willing to meet with them and that they have made almost all the changes we recommended and we still won’t support the bill,” he said.
“This is too important of an issue and bill to let these misstatements stand. The fact of the matter is that our coalition did meet with the author of this bill last year. We articulated almost two dozen concerns that we had with the bill, of which only three were actually addressed, and since that time proponents have said they have fixed all of our concerns.
“This is not only flat-out wrong. It is a distortion of the truth.”
After law enforcement testified, Rukavina bucked committee procedure and turned to the crowd in the committee room, which included the testifiers. Looking at Bushman, he said, “I want him to look me in the eye and ask if he has ever talked to me in his entire life.”
“No member of your coalition has ever talked to me about this bill. Has anyone in this room ever talked to me about this bill?” he asked the crowd.
No one, including members of law enforcement, responded that they had talked to him about the bill.
“No one has ever asked me to since I became the chief author of this bill. No one,” Rukavina said.
“So, Mr. Bushman, what you said was not true.”
The bill passed 9-6 and will next be heard in the House Finance Committee. Voting aye: Republican Tim Kelly and DFLers Debra Hilstrom, Karla Bigham, Gail Kulick Jackson, Sheldon Johnson, Michael Paymar, Paul Rosenthal, Sandra Masin and Joe Mullery. Voting no: DFLer Kory Kath and Republicans Bruce Anderson,Tony Cornish, Steve Drazkowski, Paul Kohls and Ron Shimanski.