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  • D.H. Reilly

Minnesota Medical Marijuana: How We Got Here and What to Expect


Overview of Marijuana in Minnesota

Now that Governor Tim Walz has signed legislation that clears the way for medicinal marijuana in flower form to be sold in the North Star State, it seems like a good time to do two things. First, it’s a great time to get your Minnesota Marijuana Card. And second, let’s look back at how we got to this point and where we’re likely to go next.


2014: Medical Marijuana Comes to Minnesota

The year 2014 was in some ways a highwater mark for marijuana in Minnesota, as both houses of the State Legislature overwhelmingly passed a bill legalizing medical marijuana here.

The Minnesota Medical Marijuana Act (MMMA) allowed Minnesotans with certain qualifying medical conditions to register with the Department of Health as medical marijuana users.

The law also designated the Department of Health to oversee the manufacturing and distribution of medical marijuana, and granted to the Commissioner of the Department of Health the right to designate additional qualifying conditions beyond the ones established by the law. These added conditions are subject to the approval of the Legislature.


It was indeed a big leap forward for Minnesotans who desired the relief only medical marijuana can offer, but the news wasn’t all good.

Yes, Medical Marijuana Came to Minnesota, but with a lot of Catches


Many legalization advocates would describe the Minnesota Medical Marijuana Act as better than nothing, but highly flawed.


First, the MMMA only allowed for the licensing of two manufacturers in the state. Second, it strictly limited which patients were allowed to designate a caregiver to help them obtain and administer marijuana, and those patients were only allowed to name one caregiver each. Third, the law did not allow for the use of marijuana in any form that is administered via smoking. Finally, patients could only purchase and possess a 30-day supply of marijuana at once.


Put it all together, and Minnesota has one of the most restrictive medical marijuana laws in the country. Fortunately, those restrictions have begun to loosen some, as we’ll see.


What are the Qualifying Conditions?

Upon its passage, the MMMA recognized the following qualifying conditions as grounds to receive a Marijuana Card:

  • Cancer, if the illness itself or the treatment of the illness has led to severe or chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, or cachexia

  • Glaucoma

  • HIV/AIDS

  • Tourette’s syndrome

  • ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease)

  • Seizures

  • Severe and persistent muscle spasms

  • Crohn’s disease

  • Any terminal illness that has a probable life expectancy of under one year if that illness or its treatment has led to severe or chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, or cachexia

  • Any other condition that is approved by the commissioner of the Health Department and then accepted by a vote of the State Legislature


In the years since the passage of the MMMA, intractable pain, chronic pain, and age-related macular degeneration were added to the list of qualifying conditions.


Caregiver Changes

Upon implementation, the MMMA only allowed for one caregiver per patient, and only one patient per caregiver. Patients could also designate spouses and parents or guardians to act as caretakers in addition to having one other caretaker.


Since then, caregiver provisions have changed in a number of ways. First, Governor Walz signed an executive order allowing patients to name temporary emergency caregivers during the pandemic.


Second, the same legislation that Walz signed to legalize medicinal marijuana in flower form also allowed patients to name a second caregiver and allowed a single caretaker to serve up to six patients.

Minnesota Goes Green: Flower Comes to the North Star State

It was the best of times for legalization in Minnesota, it was the worst of times for legalization in Minnesota.


On May 13, 2021, the State House voted to legalize recreational marijuana here, but it was widely known this was only a ceremonial act, as the State Senate was expected to let the legislative session end without taking up the bill, and they did.


Less than two weeks later, on May 25, Governor Walz signed into law a separate piece of legislation that legalized the purchase and use of marijuana in flower form by Minnesotans with a Medical Marijuana Card.


State Senators who had opposed recreational legalization feared that legalizing flower was just a backdoor attempt at recreational legalization, but ultimately their opponents won out on a compassion-based argument.


Marijuana in flower form, supporters of the bill pointed out, can be up to half as costly to produce as the manufactured delivery forms that were authorized under the MMMA. Lowered cost to produce means lower cost to purchase, and perhaps that leads to an increase in the number of Minnesotans who can find relief for their conditions.


So Flower is Legal, But How Much Can I Buy?

Under the MMMA, patients could purchase and possess a 30-day supply of medical marijuana in one of the approved forms. But the Omnibus Health and Human Services Bill that Governor Walz signed to legalize marijuana in flower form also expanded that amount.


Minnesotans may now purchase up to a 90-day supply of marijuana or marijuana products at one time.


And how much is a 90-day supply? Unfortunately, we cannot answer that for you, because the amount is based on an individual patient’s prescription, so you’ll need to talk to a doctor or pharmacist to determine exactly how much you can purchase at once with a Minnesota Medical Marijuana Card.


Can I Grow Marijuana in Minnesota?

Unfortunately for you do-it-yourselfers out there, only licensed growers may legally grow marijuana here.


What About Taxes and Fees?

The state requires you to pay a $200 fee each year to keep your license active, adding to the perception that Minnesota’s Medical Marijuana Program is too costly.

The good news here is that the fee is only $50 a year for patients who receive:

  • Supplemental Security Income

  • Social Security Disability

  • medical assistance

  • MinnesotaCare

  • Indian Health Service

  • Railroad disability

  • VA dependency and indemnity compensation

  • Veteran’s disability benefits

To receive the discounted rate, you must provide evidence of your eligibility. See the program site for details.


Revenues collected from patients goes into a special fund separate from the state’s general operating fund and used to administer the Medical Marijuana Program.


Learn More About Medical Marijuana

As the recent legalization of medical marijuana in flower form shows, the laws around medical marijuana seem to be in constant flux.

Fortunately, Minnesota Marijuana Card is putting together a virtual library about all things Minnesota and medical marijuana. Sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of this page, and you’ll be able to stay up-to-date with all of the latest developments in Minnesota medical marijuana.

And staying informed is vital to your health and wellbeing, because the better informed you are, the better you’ll feel about your healthcare choices.

You deserve the relief you need without the stress of legal worries, and Minnesota Marijuana Card is here to help you get it!

 

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 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.


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