Minnesota governor approves limited medical marijuana program, but will it succeed?


Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and a bud of marijuana that legal Minnesota patients will never be able to access.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has given his approval to a state law that allows patients to access concentrated forms of cannabis for oral use and vaporization only.
While the move does legalize access to limited forms of medicine for certain patients, it’s still tough to call Minnesota a medical marijuana state when patients can’t actually access actual marijuana. But technically, they are now medical marijuana state #22.

There will be a total of eight dispensaries in the state and only two licensed producers of the oils.
Backers, including Dayton, say that the proposal was written to mollify state cops and conservative physician groups. Dayton said he wouldn’t okay anything that didn’t pass law enforcement muster. It clearly wasn’t written to satisfy patients, however. Patients like Cassie Traun, who suffers from Crohn’s disease and uses illegal cannabis to treat her symptoms currently. Traun says the new program is a load of crap and the concentrated form of cannabis she’d get through the program wouldn’t help. Often smoking cannabis provides the quickest relief for people with severe nausea – which Crohn’s can cause.
“They’re asking me to remain a criminal if I want to continue the treatment plan that I like, and that my doctor approves of,” Traun told the Star-Tribune this week.
Physiciancs like Dr. Sue Sisley, who is heading up a study on marijuana and post-traumatic stress disorder in Arizona, say that the bill doesn’t give patients the ability to consume lower-strength plant forms and forces them to use high-potency hash oil.
“A lot of patients dose the plant in minimal amounts. They’re not trying to get high, they’re trying to achieve symptom control,” Sisley said this week. “Why would they subject themselves to … something much more likely to make them intoxicated?”
Traun says she’ll likely not be joining the medical marijuana program because she says she needs to continue using raw cannabis. Under the new laws, those in the program can’t possess raw cannabis or they face up to 90 days in jail and $1,000 in fines. Otherwise, marijuana possession of 42.5 grams or less is a petty misdemeanor in the state punishable by a $200 fine at most. Seem backwards? As they say in Minnesota: Youbetcha.
Patrick McClellan, a Minneosta medical cannabis activist who spent days at the capitol lobbying for an earlier, less-restrictive version of the bill says he won’t be participating in the program he helped get passed.
“I think I’m going to have to stick with my current arrangement,” McClellan said. “If I were to get into this program, and I get the oil and it’s way too powerful and then I decide to go back to leaf, I could be prosecuted.”