2021 Cleared Way for Lower Costs in Minnesota’s Medical Marijuana Market in 2022
As we look back on 2021, we can see that it gave us plenty of reasons to say that 2022 will be the best year yet to get a Minnesota Marijuana Card.
In fact, legislative actions taken in 2021 should result in lowered costs at Minnesota dispensaries come 2022. And the year also offered evidence of the continued acceptance of marijuana by both the people and their politicians, which could smooth the way to expanding Minnesota’s medical marijuana market in the future.
Medical Marijuana Flower Coming to Minnesota
The biggest medical marijuana news of 2021 here in the North Star State had to be the passage of the Omnibus Health and Human Services bill, which will allow dispensaries to offer marijuana flower starting in 2022.
And why’s that such big news? Well to explain that, let’s start with a fact that isn’t news to any cannabis patient in Minnesota: Medical marijuana costs too much here.
Medical Marijuana Costs Too Much Everywhere…
Now part of the reason medical marijuana costs so much here is that it costs a lot everywhere.
And a lot of that cost is beyond the control of state politicians and dispensary owners. Marijuana is still on the DEA’s List of Controlled Substances, despite the fact that medical marijuana is legal in thirty-six states. As a result, most banks refuse to work with cannabis companies, because of the increased costs and risks of working with a product the federal government considers to be illegal.
That means cannabis businesses, be they growers or retailers, must have their start-up money in cash before they can even begin the process of becoming legally cleared for business. It also means cannabis companies must usually work with the small number of payment processors and banks that are willing to take on the risks, but only for an outsized share of the profits.
…but Medical Marijuana is Especially Expensive in Minnesota
But even though medical marijuana is expensive everywhere, it’s especially so here in Minnesota.
“The patients have been programmed out of this,” Paul Johnson, of St. Paul, told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. A former medical cannabis patient, Johnson now buys street marijuana, because of the high cost of medical marijuana. “Make it affordable. I’d (re-enroll) in a heartbeat.”
Flower Marijuana Should Help Bring Prices Down
The high cost of medical marijuana here is why the legalization of flower cannabis is 2021’s biggest story, because the availability of flower in our dispensaries should bring prices down.
"The biggest short-term effect is that you have these new very affordable products in the form of flower that are coming in," Dr. Kyle Kingsley, the CEO of Green Goods, told KARE 11, Minneapolis’ NBC affiliate. “With flower you can generally get close to the same medicine, or even the same exact medication in some circumstances for around half the price,” Kingsley said. “Minnesota’s been very demand-limited, very few patients per capita, and that change is going to allow operators to scale up and drive down pricing.”
So lower costs should encourage higher participation in the state’s medical marijuana program, which in turn should lower costs even more.
Path Cleared for Increase in Cannabis Patient Centers
Another reason costs are so high and patient participation is so low here is that Minnesota has one of the most restrictive medical marijuana programs in the country. And one of the ways it’s restrictive is the extent to which it limits competition among retailers. In fact, there are only two companies licensed to operate patient centers, or dispensaries, in the Land of 1,000 Lakes.
But 2021 saw legislation passed that will increase the number of patient centers permitted in the state by 15%. That will make it more convenient for patients, which then should increase participation in the program and drive down costs. The increased number of dispensaries should also encourage, however slightly, competition between our two retailers.
2021 also offered an encouraging sign that there is the will here to continue growing our medical marijuana program: A number of communities responded to the increase in the amount of dispensaries permitted to operate here by voting to accept cannabis businesses.
So flower means lower costs, which means more participation, which means lower costs. And more dispensaries means more participation and competition, which means lower costs, which means more participation, which means lower costs.
Not a bad year for medical marijuana in Minnesota, eh?
Stigmas Around Marijuana Continues to Lessen
There was also evidence in 2021 that the stigmas surrounding marijuana are starting to lessen. That should also encourage more participation, but it could also encourage politicians to embrace less restrictive policies and legislation going forward, knowing they don’t need to worry about offending their constituents by being cannabis friendly.
Maybe the biggest sign of these changing attitudes in 2021 was the first ever marijuana expungement event that was held on September 11.
Expungement is a process whereby people with non-violent cannabis convictions in their pasts can have those convictions removed and vacated under Minnesota law. Unfortunately, the process can be complicated, intimidating, and discouraging for lay people.
Attorneys and law students were available at the expungement event pro bono to take qualified Minnesotans through the process step-by-step. It was a service that may have made an immense difference in the lives of people who participated in the event that day, and it was an important step towards a more just Minnesota.
Acknowledging the injustice of Minnesotans being haunted for crimes that are no longer crimes, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey tweeted his support for the event the day before.
"We need to continue pressing for legalization and expungement under State law. Until then, efforts like these are laying important groundwork," Frey wrote.
A politician publicly praising mass efforts to erase cannabis convictions? As one famous son of the North Star State once said, “The times, they are a-changin’.”
Don’t be Left Out: Get with the Changin’ Times and Get a Minnesota Marijuana Card
If you haven’t explored getting a Minnesota Marijuana Card yet, what are you waiting for? There has never been a better time to get into the state’s slowly-but-surely growing medical cannabis market.
Reserve an evaluation online today with one of our compassionate doctors, and we’ll book an appointment for you just as soon as we’re cleared to.
You’ll meet with your doctor virtually, using your smartphone or computer for a telemedicine appointment. Together you’ll discuss your conditions, what medical marijuana might be able to do for you, and if you’re qualified to receive a Minnesota Marijuana Card, all without even leaving your home. You’ll even save $25 off the cost of the evaluation!
Doctors Who Care.
Relief You Can Trust.
Helping everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce the stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.
If you have any questions, call us at (833) 781-6671, or simply reserve a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!
And don’t forget to check out Minnesota Marijuana Card’s Blog to keep up to date on the latest medical marijuana news, tips, and information.