Almost two years ago, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was approved as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana in Minnesota. But Minnesotans with PTSD were unable to legally be certified and register with the Minnesota Department of Health until July 1, 2017.
They are able to complete the process and will be able to buy approved forms of medical cannabis at one of eight statewide cannabis patient centers starting August 1. There are four in the Twin Cities area, and four in other areas of the state, including St. Cloud and Rochester.
Minnesota’s medical marijuana program has a pharmaceutical and public health research model. The program has detailed statistics and a strict process for patients, health practitioners, and manufacturers and providers. So far fewer than 7,000 patients have been approved and registered statewide.
Only two manufacturers are approved to make and sell medical cannabis to registered patients: Minnesota Medical Solutions and Leafline Labs. The products come as pills or liquid (primarily for vaporisers). August 1st, topical creams and extended release patches will be available for sale.
The medical cannabis forms legal in Minnesota are called “botaniceuticals” by Leafline Labs. They meet the standards of FOCUS, the international association that works with and certifies labs and growers.
Does Minnesota Even Want Medical Cannabis?
Reading Minnesota news articles, it’s hard not to feel like Minnesota government officials didn’t really want medical marijuana and were trying to limit it as much as possible. Patients with chronic pain waited over a year, and PTSD patients waited two years to be approved for the program and they are still waiting to actually receive medication.
The public desire for and interest in medical cannabis in Minnesota was inspired by parents of children who needed medical cannabis for very serious conditions, including cancer. These parents led the drive to approve the state’s unique, strict program.
State representative Nick Zerwas told the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, “It’s not the job of the state government to create conditions in which private companies can be profitable for selling marijuana.”
The two labs that are making Minnesota’s unique medical cannabis products are each start-ups, and together, they reportedly lost $11 million over the program’s first two years.
This all sounds like bad news that just makes it hard for people with PTSD in Minnesota to get medical cannabis products in prescribed doses. But the state Department of Health and the way the law has been implemented may have a silver lining. The process the state Health Department has in place provides all the information needed to support much more research into the health and medical benefits of cannabis.
Minnesota Governor Dayton and Medical Marijuana.
One of the biggest ironies of Minnesota’s medical cannabis story is the state’s governor, Mark Dayton. Dayton initially opposed medical cannabis in any form. In 2014, parent advocates with for severely ill children picketed Dayton’s home for two weeks while the medical marijuana bill was being considered.
On March 24, 2014, Dayton reportedly invited the parents inside his home. They told him the stories of their children’s illnesses and he responded that he not only would never authorize legal medical marijuana, the mothers should buy marijuana on the streets.
Although he later denied saying this to the mothers, an extreme public outcry encouraged Dayton to sign the bill into law within a few days.
Governor Dayton has been candid in interviews that he has suffered from mild depression, and he recently revealed that he had been diagnosed with cancer. Both are conditions qualifying patients for medical cannabis.