Legislature adjourns; medical marijuana program launches
Last update: January 21, 2016
The first half of the 2015-2016 legislative session brought about some slight changes to the restrictive medical marijuana program enacted in May 2014. While most of the changes were technical, one provision requires the health department to consider adding severe pain as a qualifying condition by January 2016 instead of 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.
Meanwhile, the state has been among the quickest to fully implement a comprehensive medical marijuana program. In the spring, the medical marijuana program opened its patient registry, and on July 1, 2015, Minnesota’s first medical marijuana dispensary opened. 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 the program has resulted in costly medicine and difficult access. Hopefully these issues will be addressed as it continues to take root; 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.
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!
Ask your lawmakers to remove penalties for adults who choose to use, possess, or purchase marijuana and to create a system that regulates and taxes the production and distribution of marijuana similarly to alcohol. You can learn more about Minnesota’s marijuana penalties and enforcement by reading this report by Jon Gettman, Ph.D.