On July 1stmedical marijuana protections took effect in Minnesota and some patients took advantage immediately as two clinics opened up at the stroke of midnight.
The program in Minnesota is very restrictive, as evidenced by the fact that only 90 patients have qualified as of yet in a state of 5.4 million people. There are 9 qualifying conditions for the program so far, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis being the reason many have qualified up to this point. Other qualifiers include nausea and chronic pain that results from cancer or some other terminal affliction.
Another restriction that patients in Minnesota face is the fact that the new MMJ law allows doctors to opt of recommending cannabis medically. Since patients need certification from a doctor to participate in the program, many who are qualified are still searching for access.
“I have been banging my head against the wall,” said Duane Bandel, who has been unable to get certified, even though he has one of the qualifying conditions, AIDS, and is a member of the state’s Task Force on Medical Cannabis Therapeutic Research. “I have called, I have written, I have begged, I have pleaded. I have an appointment with my doctor next week, but I have been told that nobody at my clinic and nobody at my HMO is certifying.”
The Minnesota Health Department is considering adding more conditions next year. In any case, it will be a long time before most of the people in Minnesota who need medical cannabis will have any hope of getting it.
There was a time in the US when medical marijuana was seen as the precursor to full legalization. I think we are moving past those times. As medical marijuana laws get more restrictive, it will be recreational legalization that ends up bringing freedom to the majority of cannabis users.