Restrictions are Killing Minnesota’s MMJ Program
September 23rd, 2015
Minnesota has a notoriously restrictive medical marijuana program, where patients face high prices, few qualifying conditions, difficult to reach locations, and limitations on the types of products available to those in need. Given these limitations, some medical marijuana patients are heading back to the black market where medications are cheaper, easier to access, and more diverse, according to Kare 11 News.
While the state passed medical marijuana laws, prices are double that of Colorado, no insurance coverage is offered, and only two locations supply the entire state. The program also permits only oils and pills to patients – more expensive than flowers – while there are only nine qualifying medical conditions. To make matters worse, patients are only allowed to possess a 30-day supply, which means they must travel to great lengths each month.
Executives at two medical marijuana companies in the state say that they’re working to bring down prices and are setting up charitable foundations to help patients pay, but the state’s tough regulatory environment has tied their hands in many ways. Earlier this month, one of the two companies also announced that it would delay the opening of its next two clinics until next year due to the lack of patient registrations and high costs.
These dynamics have led just 460 patients to register with the Health Department’s Office of Medical Cannabis to legally buy the drug within the state. Of all states that have legalized the drug, only Delaware’s program has fewer registered patients, according to a 2014 survey by ProCon.org. By comparison, states like Michigan have 175,870 active registered patients, while Illinois registered more than 2,000 patients in a trial program last year.
Cannabis advocates are hoping that the state will relax its laws over the coming years to open more locations, encourage physician participation, and eventually make it easier for patients to access medicine.
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