MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Thousands of Minnesotans who qualify for medical marijuana prescriptions may not be able to get them next month.

Patients started registering for the new program on Monday, but one of the state’s largest neurology practices says its doctors won’t take part for now.

Noran Neurological Clinic provides services at Abbott Northwestern Hospital and several clinics. The online registration may be open, but patients can’t register themselves; their doctors have to register them.

Sarah Wellington, who has multiple sclerosis, said both her neurologist who works for the Noran Neurological Clinic and her primary doctor have decided not to take part in the state program. Wellington said she is not alone.

“I would think this would be a problem for other people, especially who are out state,” she said.

Some Minnesota doctors are objecting because the marijuana prescriptions will come from pharmacists at state dispensaries.

“The main problem is that we won’t be able to prescribe, we won’t know the components of what our patients are getting,” Noran’s Dr. Rupert Exconde said.

Exconde said physicians also want to see if there are any negative reactions to the new marijuana medications being made in Minnesota.

In an interview on WCCO Radio, Manny Munson-Regala, an assistant commissioner of the Mn Department of Health, addressed Wellington’s concerns.

“If Sarah really wants to register before her clinic is ready, she should probably talk to other doctors,” Munson-Regala said.

Wellington said that not what the law is supposed to do, and doesn’t believe she should be “forced to look for other doctors.”

The Noran Neurological Clinic is not ruling out eventually taking part in the program, especially if doctors can have more input into the prescribing process.

A Department of Health statement said they are not aware of any medical groups who have decided against participation in the program.

The Noran Neurological Clinic provided the following statement:

The Noran Clinic affirms its goal of providing state of the art medical care for all neurological conditions. We aim to provide our patients with treatments that are scientifically proven to be safe and therapeutically effective.

  1. Marijuana has not been adequately studied according to federal standards. Therefore, its benefits and risks are still not scientifically proven by sound research. We view it like any other medicine under development.
  2. Under the MN medical marijuana program, the treating provider will not have any control over the dosage and active ingredients (THC vs CBD) of the substance to be dispensed. Instead, the Cannabis Patient Centers will be making these important clinical decisions without input from the provider.
  3. Medical marijuana will not be covered by any health insurance plans. We do not want to create additional expenses for our patients until we better understand its safety and health benefits.

Because of these reasons, the Noran Clinic will not be participating in the state medical marijuana program at this time. 

Esme Murphy

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