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Minnesota's Medical Cannabis Program Fast to Move But Overshadowed by Restriction

medical marijuana in minnesota in pill and oild form. Image attribution at ZoomVillage.com

A while back, the Associated Press interviewed medical cannabis patients in Minnesota who had trouble getting access to an affordable solution for illnesses. Though they were able to legally purchase cannabis under state law, the oil and pill THC products were (and still are) so expensive that buying it from local street level dealers was a more attractive or necessary option. The Drug War Times, Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) and the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) all weighed in on this issue with the same conclusions: the law was a good start, but it needs to come down in price and there needs to be better access and less restrictions.

The intention of those marketing it for the government after the legislature passed its historic law was to get rid of the subculture appeal to the drug. That is why it is not a smokable product for medical use, but an oil or pill drug similar to pharmaceutical narcotic drugs the Drug War Times says are part of a growing trend of abuse in Minnesota. Minnesota's opioid prescription abuse and heroin abuse has been a subject of debate and discussion on MPR as well.

Originally, there were nine conditions that met the eligibility requirements, all of which can be found through the Minnesota Department of Health website as well as the NORML website. NORML is an advocacy group, part of the NORML foundation, a group working to reform marijuana laws. The MPP said it would work toward pushing more reforms in Minnesota if the program did not begin to bring costs down, remove barriers and improve access for patients.

The state only legally has two manufacturers and suppliers for the product in a very tightly controlled state-run monopoly for marijuana production and distribution as is suggested in the Drug War Times article. There are only eight dispensaries planned for operation in the entire state of nearly 5.5 million residents with a massive landmass to traverse. There is also the issue of price. The product is much too expensive say experts on the matter. The restrictive policy for the conditions have been criticized widely and the state is now adding intractable pain to the list, a good sign for those who have been calling for reform, but many say there is still a lot of work to be done to have a fully functional and legitimate medical marijuana program, which is currently run under the state's health department. Other states have already legalized pot for personal recreational use. There is still a federal ban on weed.

Others argue the issue is political and many establishment politicians won't risk taking a stab at a touchy issue for their older voting base.

The full Drug War Times article is posted with permission at the Mankato Gazette Zoom Village site.

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