New Medical Marijuana Law Should Have Little Effect on Cities

The limits on access to cannabis that are provided in the bill make it unlikely there will be public safety costs associated with implementation.
(Published Jun 2, 2014)

Minnesota residents suffering from specific debilitating conditions, such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, epilepsy, glaucoma, or terminal illness, will soon be allowed to consume medical marijuana if they receive certification from the health care provider who is treating them for their qualifying condition. Because the law is narrow in scope, it is not expected to create a significant burden on cities.

Chapter 311, also known as the Medical Cannabis Therapeutic Research Act, was signed into law by Gov. Dayton on May 29. The measure, SF 2470, was authored by Rep. Carly Melin (DFL-Hibbing) and Sen. D. Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis) and passed off the House floor by a vote of 89-40 and off the Senate floor on a 46-16 vote.

While the League did not take a position on this initiative, law enforcement leaders weighed in on several versions of the bill, and insisted it be narrow in scope. The limits on access to cannabis that are provided in the bill make it unlikely there will be public safety costs associated with implementation.

Individuals suffering from intractable pain, nausea, wasting, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are not included in the new law. And, although the law is effective May 30, 2014, access to medical cannabis will not be immediate. First, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) must register two marijuana product manufacturers by either Dec. 1, 2014, or, if the department requests an extension, May 1, 2015. Each manufacturer will have four satellite distribution centers, which will be subject to strict regulations. Only pharmacists will be allowed to dispense marijuana.

Patients will be able to consume medical marijuana in the form of liquids, pills, and oils, including those produced from whole plant extracts, as well as through vaporization. They cannot use marijuana in its standard form of flowers and leaves.

Patients will also be required to pay $200 per year to register with the MDH. Recipients of Social Security disability, Supplemental Security Insurance payments, and those enrolled in MinnesotaCare will pay a reduced rate of $50. They will only qualify if their health care practitioner is willing to submit data to the state regarding the patient’s treatment.

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