Legislature adjourns; medical marijuana program launches
Last update: July 1, 2015
On May 18, the Minnesota Legislature adjourned the first half of its 2015-2016 legislative session, and although lawmakers failed to improve significantly upon the restrictive medical marijuana program enacted last year, they did make some changes. While most of the changes were technical, legislation passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. Mark Dayton included a provision that requires the health department to consider adding severe pain to the list of qualifying conditions by January as opposed to July 2016, as the law originally called for. While this will not allow individuals suffering from extreme pain to access medical marijuana immediately, it will hopefully mean they will be able to do so six months earlier.
Mere days after the session adjourned, the medical marijuana program patient and healthcare practitioner enrollment officially began, and on July 1, Minnesota’s first medical marijuana dispensary opened its doors to qualified patients. Minnesotans with qualifying conditions who are interested in enrolling in the program, and healthcare practitioners who are interested in certifying some of their qualified patients, should contact the Minnesota Department of Health for details. Unfortunately, there have been reports that healthcare practitioners have been slow to enroll. However, the program is new to Minnesota’s healthcare practitioners, and enrollment just opened. We hope that more doctors will register as it becomes apparent this is a patient-focused law. If not, we will seek legislative changes.
Please be sure to sign up for our Minnesota-specific action alerts to stay up to date on marijuana policy reform in the Land of 10,000 Lakes going forward. We will continue to our work to make sure that all seriously ill patients who can benefit from medical cannabis have reasonable access to the form of medicine that can best help them.
Statewide television ad campaign highlights the need for medical cannabis in Minnesota
On April 2, 2014, MPP and Minnesotans for Compassionate Care began running television commercials across the state highlighting just one of many Minnesotans, and his mother, who could benefit from passage of a compassionate law. You can watch the ad here.
On April 8, 2014, we began airing a second ad featuring Patrick McClellan (above), who has found that medical cannabis alleviates his debilitating spasms far more safely and consistently than prescription medications. If you’re a Minnesotan who would like to help Angela’s family, Patrick, and many others in similar situations, email your lawmakers regarding their support — or lack thereof — and encourage them to continue to help protecting all the suffering who can benefit from medical cannabis.
Are you a patient or supportive medical professional?
If you are a patient with a serious medical condition who could benefit from medical marijuana, the loved one of a patient, or a supportive medical professional, please email [email protected] to get involved.
Learn about Minnesota’s marijuana laws
In 2012, there were 12,051 marijuana-related arrests in Minnesota. Sixty-two percent of these arrests were for marijuana possession. While the penalty for a first offense of possessing a small amount of marijuana in Minnesota is a $200 fine and mandatory drug education, having two ounces could land Minnesotans in jail for five years! These arrests hit minority communities the hardest. According to data from the ACLU, African Americans in Minnesota are nearly eight times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession as their white neighbors! You can learn more about Minnesota’s marijuana penalties and enforcement by reading this report by Jon Gettman, Ph.D.