May was a merry, merry month for Minnesota’s card-carrying medical cannabis patients aged 21 and older, as the approval of smokable flower passed into law as part of a larger health bill. Although the Minnesota medical cannabis law change will most likely not go into effect for seven months, it is welcomed as an option that is more affordable and accessible. This new Minnesota cannabis law could potentially boost the state’s program, which is heavily regulated and currently only includes two operators. Other states that have recently allowed smokable cannabis flower like Minnesota for medical patients include Louisiana, to be effective January 1, 2022, and Virginia by the end of 2021. This type of consumption often continues to be banned by states newly legalizing medical cannabis, however. As an example, Alabama’s recent pass into law does not permit “cannabis products that are smoked or vaped, baked goods or candies”.
Curbside Cannabis Pickup
Additionally, the new Minnesota medical cannabis law allows patients to obtain prescribed medical cannabis through curbside pickup instead of mandatory building entry, as well as increases the number of patients a single caregiver may serve, from a single person up to six. Another change, which has become popular among U.S. lawmakers, is the ability of the State Commissioner to remove existing qualifying conditions from the designated list if they receive a petition to do so. Although efforts were made in May by the Minnesota House of Representatives to further stand-alone legislation which legalized adult-use marijuana and would regulate retail sales, the Senate did not consider it and the bill did not advance.
Any updates to the past restrictive laws are apparently welcomed by residents of Minnesota. “Over the course of 12 public hearings this year and a statewide tour visiting 15 communities, Minnesotans were loud and clear that our state’s medical cannabis program was too expensive, and that allowing flower could significantly improve access,” House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (D) said in a press release. “As a result of Minnesotans who made their voices heard over the course of years—whether you are a veteran suffering from PTSD, a person with a serious health condition or a parent with a sick child—more people will gain the ability to live healthy, fulfilled lives,” he said.
Minnesota’s Medical Cannabis Program allows registered patients to purchase a supply of up to 90-days’ worth of medicinal dried raw cannabis after March 2022. In order to qualify for the state program, one must be a resident of the state of Minnesota and be certified by a qualifying doctor with one of the conditions below:
- Cancer associated with severe/chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting or cachexia or severe wasting
- Tourette syndrome
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy
- Severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis
- Inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease
- Terminal illness, with a probable life expectancy of less than one year*
- Intractable pain
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Autism spectrum disorder (must meet DSM-5)
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Chronic pain
- Sickle cell disease
- Chronic motor or vocal tic disorder
Per MJBizFactbook, the Gopher State has projected sales of medical cannabis in 2021 of $60-$70 million. The program has over 34,000 registered patients and 13 dispensaries, which will soon enough be able to provide legal Minnesota cannabis flower to all medical patients across the state.
Recently, Minnesota’s Office of Medical Cannabis publicly announced consideration of adding a new delivery method and a new qualifying medical condition to Minnesota medical cannabis law. Public comments may be submitted in writing by October 1, 2021 on:
- Sensible Minnesota’s petition to add GI-uptake infused edibles (i.e., edibles that are not dissolved orally, such as chewable products), and
- Adding anxiety disorder and/or specific sub-conditions — generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety/ social phobia, panic disorder, specific phobias, separation anxiety and agoraphobia. The Office of Medical Cannabis seeks to limit the condition to individuals who are 25 or older.
The legalization of smokable cannabis flower has proved to be a successful strategy in many states to increase medical program participation and boost sales that benefit the overall populace of a state. With the vast range of levels of legalization, having one source for information and connections is essential.
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