Medical marijuana penalties are mostly mellow

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Supporters of medical marijuana reacted angrily this week to what they said was a suggestion from Gov. Mark Dayton that they simply buy it illegally.

Dayton denied such a suggestion.

But if Minnesota doesn't make medical marijuana legal this year, it seems likely that many medical users will keep getting it illegally.

State data show fewer than 9,100 people were charged each of the past five years with the petty misdemeanor of having or selling 1.5 ounces or fewer of marijuana. It's not clear how many of those were using marijuana for medical reasons since state agencies don't track it.

The state penalty for first offense is small -- mandatory participation in a drug education program.

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