Minnesota is one of the states in the US that decriminalized marijuana back in 1976 and since then has been at the forefront of legalization. It took a while until 2014 when the governor signed into law a bill legalizing marijuana for use in medical conditions that included cancer, Tourette’s syndrome, glaucoma, severe epilepsy, ALS, and Crohn’s disease.
The first campaign at legalizing Minnesota cannabis for recreational use through legislation in 2019 flopped and was revived in 2021, only to stall in committee again when the house adjourned. However, smokable flower marijuana for medical purposes was legalized, paving the way for sales in Minnesota.
Minnesota cannabis dispensaries
So far, Minnesota has about 13 licensed medical cannabis dispensaries spread across the state previously selling the permitted liquid and topical (CBD) marijuana. The same outlets will sell the MN cannabis flower under the state’s medical marijuana program and guidelines.
However, there’s still hope for full-scale legalization of recreational marijuana consumption and sales if Governor Walz has his way and gets the state legislature’s nod. For now, he plans to fund a special committee, the Cannabis Management Office, if approved by the house, to develop a possible framework for a statewide recreational cannabis roll-out and the protocols to manage it.
Dispensaries began selling pre-packaged dried cannabis flowers at the start of March after the Minnesota Department of Health okayed it as part of the existing medical marijuana program. Also on offer at the dispensaries are pre-rolled joints in multiple cannabinoid potency levels and a wide range of strains.
According to MN cannabis news, smokable cannabis bud will only be sold to caregivers and patients ages above 21 and registered with the MDH’s medical marijuana program. Unlike previously, currently registered patients and caregivers are permitted to buy up to a 90-day cannabis supply in one transaction according to state regulations.
Patients already registered in the MN cannabis program require recertification of their qualifying condition annually to stay active on the program and purchase their favorite cannabis flower from authorized dispensaries. Patients seeking recertification do not have to go to the same physician and are free to consult any licensed physician, advanced practice registered nurse or physician assistant up to 90 days before the expiry of enrollment.
Parents, legal guardians, and legally married spouses must be registered in the cannabis program registry alongside the patients and be designated as caregivers for purposes of purchasing medical cannabis for patients. However, professional caregivers must complete a background check and set up their accounts at the registry to qualify.
Cannabis flower sales stabilize prices
The inclusion of the dried and cured marijuana flower in the medical cannabis program helped to bring down the cost of using this alternative medication. According to the MN cannabis office, it costs less to dry and cure the marijuana flower than it does to produce processed cannabis products.
Cannabis extracts, capsules, distillates, and topicals cost more to produce and package, leading to higher sale prices at the dispensary, discouraging many patients who cannot afford them. The introduction of the dried cannabis flower that is markedly cheaper was intended to offer an affordable alternative product with the same properties as the processed variety.
The MN cannabis flower sale approval brings financial relief to many patients who were finding the cost of processed products prohibitively high. Sources in the industry indicated that patients would save up to 50% monthly in costs buying the marijuana bud instead of the pills, topicals, and oils previously permitted.
This is a huge step, as confirmed by excited patients, in ameliorating the pain and cost they were suffering due to the limited options under the law in the state. Consequently, the Minnesota Cannabis office has witnessed a surge in patient enrollment on the medical program in anticipation of the legalized and affordable marijuana bud.
Other MN cannabis news confirms that although marijuana is now legally recognized as an alternative medical product useful in the management of certain chronic diseases, insurance does not cover it. The lack of insurance cover compounded the patients’ pain with the added financial burden as a result of costly processed cannabis.
The launch of the cheaper marijuana flower will bring the cost down to as low as $300 a month, according to the MN Office of Medical Cannabis. Patients are excited at this relief, with some indicating they will likely save upwards of $400 a month buying the marijuana bud.
Marijuana more potent than processed cannabis
Cannabis policy reform groups have always advocated for the inclusion of herbal marijuana among the cannabis products allowed by law in different states. The cannabis herb contains over 100 identified cannabinoids that act collectively to provide the classic marijuana affect users love.
Isolating some of these cannabinoids for extraction and packaging them separately erodes the wholesome properties that may have any medicinal value to the patient. It is for this reason that the introduction of the marijuana flower in the Minnesota cannabis program has been lauded by users and potential growers.
To spice things up, the Minnesota Department of Health also promised to approve the introduction of edible cannabis products later in August this year. Expected goodies in this category include chews and gummies that are more convenient to use by patients and easy to carry along as one goes about the daily life routine. These changes come in the wake of recent petitions last year in which patients and users advocated for more options in marijuana delivery methods. The MDH initiates such public interaction forums to collect public input on matters of mutual interest in the health sector and the MN cannabis program.
Aside from the apparent efficacy of the herb marijuana, its cost implications make it a better alternative for all. Minnesota’s Office of Medical Cannabis conducted a price point survey in 2019 and found the average monthly cost per patient was about $300.
The processed cannabis products are estimated to cost patients more than double this amount and are not as effective or fast-acting as the MN cannabis flower. For Minnesota residents, the marijuana bud is a game-changer and life safer.