No major changes to Minnesota’s marijuana laws during the 2018 legislative session
Last update: June 1, 2018
The Minnesota Legislature concluded for the year on May 25, 2018. While several bills were introduced seeking to improve the state’s medical marijuana program or to set up a system of regulation that would allow adults to consume marijuana, no major legislation was enacted.
Ask your lawmakers to bring sensible and humane marijuana policies to the state when the legislature reconvenes in 2019. Let them know you want Minnesota to follow the lead of eight other states by replacing marijuana prohibition with legalization, regulation, and taxation.
Minnesota’s medical marijuana program expands, but remains flawed
In 2014, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed into law a medical marijuana program after insisting on modifications that made it extremely restrictive and that drive up the costs of medical cannabis.
After the first year of the program, 92% of patients reported some benefit from their treatment, and 67% reported a great deal of benefit. However, more than half of the patients who registered and made purchases within the first six months stopped purchasing medical cannabis from dispensaries by the end of 2016. In the same survey, 86% of patients reported that they found medical cannabis to be at least somewhat unaffordable, with 29% reporting prices as very prohibitive.
Local advocates, often with assistance from MPP, have petitioned the Minnesota Office of Medical Cannabis to add qualifying conditions. As a result, the program has slowly expanded. The office added intractable pain in 2015, PTSD in 2016, and obstructive sleep apnea and autism in late 2017. The last two additions take effect on July 1, 2018.
Despite these improvements, the program still has serious limitations, including that it is the only operational medical program that does not allow patients to access and use marijuana flowers. Instead, the state only allows extracts and other preparations, which are more costly and which many patients find do not work as well. Another issue that leads to shortages and high pricing is that there are only two businesses licensed to provide medical marijuana in the state.
In order to better serve the patients of Minnesota, the legislature and department should work together to add access to flower and to license additional businesses.
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