St. Paul, MN: Minnesota House and Senate lawmakers, along with Democrat Gov. Mark Dayton, agreed late last week to legislation that seeks to provide access to limited preparations of cannabis to qualified patients.
Under the plan, state regulators intend to license two producers of cannabis and up to eight distribution centers. To be eligible to participate in the state's program, patients need to possess a physician's recommendation (or the recommendation from a nurse practitioner or a physician's assistant) and be diagnosed with one of eight qualifying conditions (cancer/cachexia, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Tourette's Syndrome, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, seizures - including those characteristic of epilepsy, severe and persistent muscle spasms -- including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis, and/or Crohn's Disease) and/or a terminal illness, and be registered with the state Department of Health.
However, unlike other state medical cannabis programs, the Minnesota plan does not permit qualified patients to possess or obtain whole-plant cannabis. Instead, the forthcoming law mandates that state-licensed distribution centers provide oils, pills, and/or extracts prepared from the plant. Such products would be subject to laboratory testing for purity and potency. Patients are permitted to ingest or vaporize, but not smoke, these medical cannabis preparations. Patients' health care provider must compile ongoing reports in regards to their patients' progress.
The law authorizes the state to license cannabis producers by no later than December 1, 2014. Cannabis-based preparations are expected to be available at state-licensed dispensaries by July 1, 2015.
For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, or Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director, at (202) 483-5500.