Dayton denies telling mother to buy pot on street

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton on Friday denied a mother's claim that he had suggested she buy marijuana from the street to treat her 2-year-old son's intractable epilepsy because the drug is not a legal medicine in the state.

Jessica Hauser, a Woodbury mother who has been advocating for legalizing medical marijuana, was among a small group of supporters who met in early March with the Democratic governor. She also alleged Wednesday that Dayton had told her another option would be to buy the drug in a state where medical marijuana was legal and bring it back to Minnesota. Such an activity would be considered a federal crime.

Appearing publicly for the first time since Hauser made the allegations, Dayton answered "no" when asked if he recommended an illegal purchase. Dayton refused to elaborate.

"I've said all I'm going to say about medical marijuana," he said after a news conference on an unrelated issue. "I'm not going to discuss it further."

Hauser, 36, stands by her version.

"It's just really disappointing in a top official to first suggest it and then deny it," Hauser said, adding, "I have no reason to lie."

The alleged remarks were made during a private meeting at the governor's official residence. Another supporter of medical marijuana has confirmed the mother's claim, which surfaced weeks after the meeting and when talks over a compromise hit an apparent roadblock.

The Democratic governor acknowledged Friday that the issue has been challenging for him. He doesn't support the broad-scale legalization that some lawmakers and others want.

"It's very hard being vilified. It's very hard to be told that I don't care about people and their suffering," Dayton said. "That's why I'm in this pursuit -- to help people and relieve people's pain and suffering."

Until earlier this month, Dayton had said he would not support a medical-marijuana bill or one that allows for the smoking of the drug without the backing of state law-enforcement groups.

Last week, he announced he would be requesting $2.2 million for a medical-marijuana research project on oil extracts.

Then on Tuesday, Dayton said in a radio interview that chances for the project being approved were "slim and none" due to objections from medical-marijuana advocates with epileptic children. He clarified those remarks Wednesday, saying he didn't mean to refer "to victims of terrible diseases or their parents, who I was trying to help."

In certain forms, the drug has been shown to have seizure-fighting properties for children, but researchers say they yet don't know whether it can cause long-term damage to developing brains.

Dayton said he still has concerns about the issue, but he urged advocates and legislators to work on some compromise this year to bring relief to suffering children.

___

Associated Press writers Amy Forliti and Jeff Baenen contributed from Minneapolis.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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