Medical Cannabis Program Update – January 2017
Minnesota Department of Health
Minnesota’s medical cannabis program began distributing medical cannabis to registered patients on July 1, 2015. This update reports information collected from July 1, 2015 through December 31, 2016. The data for this update, unless otherwise noted, come from the medical cannabis patient registry system, a secure, web-based application system. This document is updated quarterly.
Cannabis Manufacturers: The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) registered two medical cannabis manufacturers on December 1, 2014. They are responsible for the cultivation, production, and distribution of medical cannabis in the state. The manufacturers are Minnesota Medical Solutions, LLC and LeafLine Labs, LLC.
Minnesota Medical Solutions operates distribution facilities, or Cannabis Patient Centers (CPCs), in Minneapolis, Rochester, Moorhead, and Bloomington.
LeafLine Labs operates CPCs in Eagan, St. Cloud, Hibbing, and St. Paul.
Patients: Qualifying patients must be enrolled in the medical cannabis patient registry to be eligible to legally purchase and possess medical cannabis. As part of the application process, a patient’s qualifying medical condition must be certified by a health care practitioner; this qualifying medical condition and the patient must be re-evaluated and re-certified by a health care practitioner every year.
As of December 31, 2016, there were 4,017 patients actively enrolled in the patient registry, an increase of 2,429 from the 1,588 enrolled on June 30, 2016. This increase is due primarily to the addition of Intractable Pain as a qualifying medical condition, effective August 1, 2016.
Patients must pay an enrollment fee before they are eligible to legally purchase and possess medical cannabis. Minnesota Statutes section 152.35 sets the annual patient enrollment fee at$200; patients who receive government assistance, such as Minnesota Care (MN Care) , Social Security Disability (SSD), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid/Medical Assistance (MA) and CHAMPVA, qualify for a reduced fee of $50.
The qualifying medical conditions are: Cancer or its treatment (must be accompanied by severe or chronic pain, nausea , or severe wasting); Glaucoma; HIV/AIDS; Tourette Syndrome; Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease); Seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy; Severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis; Terminal Illness with life-expectancy of less than 1 year (must be accompanied by severe or chronic pain, nausea , or severe wasting); and, Crohn’s Disease was extended to Inflammatory Bowel Disease (including Crohn’s Disease) effective July 1, 2016. Intractable Pain was added as a qualifying medical condition by the commissioner of health, effective August 1, 2016.
Caregivers: There are two different groups of caregivers in the Minnesota medical cannabis program: designated caregivers and parents or legal guardians acting as caregivers. All caregivers must be enrolled in the patient registry system. A patient’s parent or legal guardian may act as caregiver and be entered in the registry without having to qualify as a designated caregiver. A patient may have both registered designated caregivers and registered parents or legal guardians acting as caregivers.
The law permits patient to have a registered designated caregiver only if the patient’s health care practitioner certifies that the patient suffers from a developmental or physical disability that prevents the patient from either self-administering the medication or acquiring the medication from a distribution facility. Registered designated caregivers must pass a criminal background check.
Health Care Practitioners: Health care practitioners who can certify a patient’s qualifying medical condition are Minnesota licensed physicians, physician assistants, and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). The health care practitioner must be enrolled in the medical cannabis registry before certifying a patient’s qualifying medical condition.
Activity in the program increased beginning July 1, 2016, when patients with Intractable Pain became eligible to have their medical condition certified to be eligible for the program. Phone calls received by OMC increased beginning in June and the highest call volume week for the program came the first week of August with 474 calls received. OMC support center staff handled 225.2 calls per week (where they spoke with a caller) during the last quarter of 2016, an increase of 240 percent over the average of 93.9 calls handled per week during the last quarter of 2015.
For more information on Minnesota’s Medical Canabis please visit the Minnesota Department of Health Website or click here.