General Information about the Minnesota Medical Cannabis Program
Legislation passed during the 2014 Minnesota legislative session created a new process allowing seriously ill Minnesotans to use medical cannabis to treat certain conditions. Medical cannabis will not be available via a pharmacy through a prescription from a doctor. Instead, patients with one of the qualifying conditions (see list below) will be eligible to enroll in a patient registry maintained by the State. Patients on this registry will be able to get medical cannabis directly from one of eight dispensaries set up around the state.
LATE SPRING 2015
Minnesotans with qualified medical conditions receive certification from a Minnesota-licensed health care practitioner and submit applications to the Minnesota Department of Health.
LATE SPRING 2015
After receipt of applications, the Commissioner of Health enrolls patients in the registry program and issues registry verifications.
STARTING IN JULY 2015
Minnesotans on the patient registry eligible to purchase medical cannabis once it becomes available at distribution facilities set up by medical cannabis manufacturers.
Who will be able to use medical cannabis?
Medical cannabis will be available to Minnesota residents whose health care provider certifies them to be suffering from conditions including:
- Cancer associated with severe/chronic pain, nausea or
severe vomiting, or cachexia or severe wasting.
- Tourette Syndrome.
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).
- Seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy.
- Severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis.
- Crohn’s Disease.
- Terminal illness, with a life expectancy of less than one year, if the illness or treatment produces severe/chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, cachexia or severe wasting.
The bill directs the Commissioner of Health to consider the addition of other conditions, particularly intractable pain (as defined in statute) by July 1, 2016.
When will medical cannabis become available?
The Commissioner will require selected manufacturers to supply medical cannabis products to patients by July 1, 2015. The legislation provides for a six-month extension of this deadline if the state or the manufacturers encounter delays.
Will people in bordering states be eligible to participate in the program?
No. Minnesota’s legislation restricts eligibility to Minnesota residents and Minnesota-licensed health care practitioners.
How much will patients pay to participate in the program?
Patients will pay a yet-to-be-determined price for medical cannabis products provided by the manufacturers. In addition, most registered patients will pay an annual fee of $200 to participate in the program. There is a reduced annual fee of $50 for Minnesotans receiving Social Security disability, CHAMPVA, Supplemental Security Insurance payments or enrolled in medical assistance or MinnesotaCare.
Where will the medical cannabis distribution centers be located?
Each of the two registered manufacturers will set up four distribution facilities around the state, for a total of eight. No specific locations have been identified yet, but facilities will be located based on geographic need and to improve patient access.
In what forms will medical cannabis be made available?
Medical cannabis will be provided to patients as a liquid, pill or vaporized delivery method that does not require the use of dried leaves or plant form.
How will the state track the effectiveness and safety of medical cannabis?
With regard to safety and security, there are a number of precautions built into the program. For example, registered manufacturers must contract with a laboratory for testing the quality and consistency of the medical cannabis products. Manufacturers’ facilities are also subject to state inspection.
With regard to effectiveness, one important feature of the program is a process for monitoring and evaluating the health impacts experienced by patients taking medical cannabis. This information will help patients and health professionals build their understanding of the benefits, risks and side effects of medical cannabis.