July 1, 2015
First patients receive medical cannabis under new state program
Minneapolis, Eagan cannabis patient centers open today; more centers to open across state
Minnesota opened cannabis patient centers in Minneapolis and Eagan today, allowing qualified patients to receive medical cannabis for the first time.
The openings are the culmination of a year-long effort by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and state leaders to launch a medical cannabis program that places patient safety and product effectiveness as top priorities. MDH completed a series of milestones, such as such as building a registration system and choosing local manufacturers, after the Legislature directed MDH to establish a medical cannabis system in 2014.
“Working with our many partners, we have fulfilled the task that the legislature put before us a little over a year ago,” Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger said. “Qualified patients now can receive cannabis medications in a controlled, healthcare-like environment, and Minnesota is poised to be a research leader as we expand our understanding of how various medical cannabis formulations may help patients with qualifying conditions.”
The state’s two approved cannabis manufacturers, Minnesota Medical Solutions and Leafline Labs, each operate one cannabis patient center today and will open more across the state in the months to come. Minnesota eventually will have eight cannabis patient centers statewide, with locations in St. Cloud, Rochester, Eden Prairie, St. Paul, Hibbing and Moorhead.
Patients interested in medical cannabis must be certified as having one or more of the list of qualifying conditions and they must complete the state’s registration process before they can visit a cannabis patient center. Once at the centers, patients meet with a pharmacist to determine the correct cannabis form and dose. Minnesota’s program allows for cannabis pills and liquids, but no smoking or dispensing of plant materials.
An essential first step for patients interested in medical cannabis is to visit a health care practitioner - a doctor, advanced practice registered nurse or physician assistant - who can go to the MDH website and certify that the patient has one or more of the qualifying conditions. Once a practitioner certifies a patient, the patient will receive an email link to the MDH website where the individual can register to receive medical cannabis after the program goes live on July 1. There is no time limit on when practitioners or patients can register.
Practitioners who qualify under the law voluntarily choose whether to certify patients. Patients may seek a second opinion if their practitioner declines to participate. Patients also need to consider the potential out-of-pocket costs, which could be hundreds of dollars a month. Minnesota insurers do not cover medical cannabis.
MDH provides weekly registration number updates on its website. More information is available by visiting the Office of Medical Cannabis website or calling 651-201-5598 (toll free 844-879-3381). More information is also available by emailing MDH at firstname.lastname@example.org.