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Reality Check: MN’s New Restrictive Medical Marijuana Law

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(credit: CBS) Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota just became the 22nd state in the nation to legalize medical marijuana.

Without public fanfare, Gov. Mark Dayton signed the bill Thursday morning that legalizes medical cannabis for specific illnesses, but includes some of the strictest controls in the country.

Of the 22 states and the District of Columbia where medical cannabis is legal, Minnesota’s new law is among the most cautious.

Unlike most states with medical marijuana laws, Minnesota does not allow the smoking of marijuana leaves. Only the use of pills, oils, or vaporizing of a cannabis compound through a device similar to an e-cigarette is allowed.

In fact, Minnesota’s strict new medical marijuana law does not allow smoking, home cultivation and allows only two cannabis dispensaries statewide. It’s also a felony to transfer medical pot to a non-patient.

Medical cannabis is expected help about 5,000 patients, many of them children with debilitating illnesses and epileptic-like symptoms.

However, an estimated 33,000 patients with illnesses ranging from muscular dystrophy to PTSD won’t get help, because they’re barred from smoking the leaf.

Gov. Mark Dayton says he signed the medical marijuana law because it includes tight controls, but is adamant about preventing easy access statewide to leaf marijuana.

“It’s fraught with problems,” he said. “And I understand people are unhappy because they really want leaf marijuana grown by the state and made available at their local store. That’s not going to happen.”

The new law also creates a task force to study the effects of medical marijuana.

Patients with qualifying illnesses could begin receiving medical cannabis by summer of 2015.

Here are the qualifying medical conditions for medical marijuana under new Minnesota law, taken from statute:

(1) cancer, if the underlying condition or treatment produces one or more of the
3.13following:
3.14(i) severe or chronic pain;
3.15(ii) nausea or severe vomiting; or
3.16(iii) cachexia or severe wasting;
3.17(2) glaucoma;
3.18(3) human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immune deficiency syndrome;
3.19(4) Tourette’s syndrome;
3.20(5) amyotrophic lateral sclerosis;
3.21(6) seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy;
3.22(7) severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple
3.23sclerosis;
3.24(8) Crohn’s disease;
3.25(9) terminal illness, with a probable life expectancy of under one year, if the illness
3.26or its treatment produces one or more of the following:
3.27(i) severe or chronic pain;
3.28(ii) nausea or severe vomiting; or
3.29(iii) cachexia or severe wasting; or
3.30(10) any other medical condition or its treatment approved by the commissioner

Here are some of the sources we used for this story:

MN Medical Marijuana Law
Marijuana Policy Project Minnesota Law
Nat’l Conference of State Legislatures – Medical Marijuana in the States
States Considering MM Laws in 2014
Details of Medical Marijuana Laws in 21 States and DC
Key Aspects of State Medical marijuana Laws
Medical Marijuana Laws and Civil Protections

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