[MMA News Now, May 15, 2014]
The authors of the two competing medical marijuana proposals and Gov. Mark Dayton reached a compromise on May 15 that is poised to make Minnesota the 22nd state to allow the use of cannabis for medical conditions.
After a press conference to announce the agreement, it was reviewed by a conference committee on May 15 and then expected to go to the House and Senate floors May 16. Gov. Mark Dayton has indicated that he will sign the legislation into law. Law enforcement officials are neutral on the proposal.
Under the proposal, physicians would be required to confirm that a patient has one of the qualifying conditions, but not to certify whether cannabis would be beneficial. The conditions, which were broadened as part of negotiations, now include cancer with the symptoms of nausea, pain and wasting, and terminal illnesses with these same symptoms. A terminal illness is defined as a patient likely to die within 12 months. The other conditions include: HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, Tourette’s Syndrome, ALS, seizures brought on by epilepsy, muscle spasms caused my multiple sclerosis, and Crohn’s disease.
Once one of these conditions is confirmed, the patient will need to register with the Minnesota Department of Health, which will conduct observational research on those in the registry to gather data on the efficacy of the treatment. Patients will only have access to marijuana in an oil, pill or liquid form. Vaping will be allowed but only of a liquid product. The bill allows for “full plant extracts” but not leaf form.
The Health Commissioner will be responsible for determining dosages of the medical marijuana based on reviewing other states laws and medical literature. A state-approved pharmacist will dispense the drug at one of eight state-sanctioned distribution sites. The new proposal calls for up to two manufacturers of the drug, each of which can operate up to four distribution centers.
Authors are expecting that the registry will include more than 5,000 enrollees.
“While the MMA does not support this bill, we are neutral toward it because it is now more consistent with recently-adopted policy," said Dave Thorson, M.D., MMA's board chair. "It begins gathering clinical data, it removes physicians from the role of recommending or prescribing a Schedule I substance, and it tries to assure some standardization of the product by limiting manufacturers and distributors. It also prohibits the leaf form of the drug. It may be the narrowest interpretation of medical marijuana in the country."