LeafLine Labs is one of two medical marijuana providers chosen by the state to manufacture and distribute marijuana in Minnesota. Some of the state’s distribution centers will open July 1, with other locations opening later this year and next year.
LeafLine is planning to open a distribution facility in St. Cloud. It’s application for state approval indicated its storefront would be at 125-33rd Ave. S.
“Our operation is, if anything, tracking slightly ahead of our original schedule,” said Dr. Andrew Bachman, co-founder and chief medical officer at LeafLine. “Our initial care center location in Eagan and a second facility later this summer was always our intent.”
He wouldn’t say this week if the St. Cloud location referenced in the company’s application is still where LeafLine plans to open or exactly when it would open. An announcement about the location will come closer to the opening date, he said.
For now, Bachman is spending plenty of time answering questions about how his company’s medical marijuana operation will work.
The company is growing marijuana at a 42,000 square-foot facility in Cottage Grove, where plants will be harvested and the necessary components extracted to make liquid and pill forms of medical cannabis.
There will be no growing or manufacturing at the St. Cloud facility and there will be no leaves, buds or other plant forms of marijuana there either. It will operate more like a combination of a spa and a narrowly focused pharmacy, Bachman said.
Rather than an experience based solely on a transaction, LeafLine hopes to create an interaction between patient and provider that informs care, he said.
Patients statewide this week could begin getting their medical conditions certified to receive medical marijuana. That certification comes from the patient’s healthcare practitioner.
In CentraCare Health, the decision whether to certify patients is up to the individual physician, said Jeanine Nistler, director of communications.
A survey released this week by the Minnesota Medical Association showed that the vast majority of physicians who responded to the survey don’t plan to participate in the state’s medical cannabis registry.
The survey was sent Tuesday to more than 14,000 physicians, and 493 had responded by Thursday. Of the respondents, 9 percent said they plan to participate, 68 percent do not, 16 percent haven’t decided and 7 percent said that they don’t have patients who would have a qualifying condition, according to the MMA.
The state approved medical marijuana for people suffering from the following conditions: cancer associated with severe/chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, or cachexia or severe wasting; glaucoma; HIV/AIDS; Tourette syndrome; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; seizures; severe and persistent muscle spasms; Crohn’s disease; and terminal illness where the patient has a life expectancy of less than one year.
That means that many of the patients using the distribution center will be “quite ill, will have failed with other therapies” and might be near the end of their life, Bachman said.
“We want this to be safe, comfortable and spa-like to give patients comfort and a therapeutic experience,” he said.
City officials didn’t take a position on LeafLine’s application to open in St. Cloud. Mayor Dave Kleis has previously said that there were no zoning concerns with opening the facility in the city.
The nature of the business and what they are selling raises some security concerns with St. Cloud Police Chief Blair Anderson. He would like to know where the store is going and what the company is doing to make the store as secure as possible.
“Just because they’re only going to have the extracted liquid form and pills doesn’t mean that there won’t be members of the public that either won’t believe that or believe that it is just as valuable,” Anderson said. “What form it’s in won’t really matter that much to me in terms of needing to have the same level of security that I think is necessary for a business such as that.”
He mentioned a recent house fire that killed an elderly woman in St. Cloud and was allegedly started when two men were making butane hash oil from marijuana as a reason to be concerned about marijuana in any form.
Bachman said security at the manufacturing facility in Cottage Grove and the distribution facilities they open will be more than what’s called for in state statutes. The Legislature is requiring closed-circuit television surveillance 24 hours a day, seven days a week with cameras that are able to “capture clear and certain identification of any person entering or exiting” a manufacturing or distribution facility.
The company must retain the video for at least 90 days, according to state statute. They also must have an alarm system that covers the entire facility and works during a power outage.
“We have incredible state-of-the-art monitoring and security that would make a Las Vegas casino proud,” Bachman said.
He anticipates involving services such as massage, yoga, acupuncture and other health and wellness treatments. He wants to create a care experience for patients that eliminates long wait times and crowded lines, he said.
“We want this to be peaceful, compassionate and dignified,” Bachman said.
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