By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota’s new medical marijuana program opens for business in just five days, but so far only 41 patients are registered and will be able to get their prescriptions.

Patients and their families put the blame for the low number on an enrollment process that is turning out to be far more difficult than anyone expected.

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Beth Hundley’s 3-year-old daughter Harlow suffers from a rare form epilepsy and experiences hundreds of seizures every day. Most of her seizures are small ones lasting a few seconds, but there are also the larger ones where her parents have to scramble to get the oxygen.

Beth Hundley says she, like other patients and families, had an unexpected time finding a doctor who would sign off on their registration for the program.

“It’s definitely been a challenging process,” Beth Hundley said.

She was one of those who lobbied state lawmakers to pass a medical marijuana program. Medical cannabis has helped children with the same condition as Harlow.

“If we could get even a small portion of the benefits that some of these children are seeing it would be so wonderful for Harlow,” she said. “She is currently taking 15 doses of pharmaceuticals a day and her seizures still aren’t under control.”

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Some Minnesota doctors say they don’t like the fact that pharmacists will be prescribing the marijuana. Some doctors also say they are concerned that medical marijuana is an unknown entity that does not have to meet FDA standards.

Sen. Scott Dibble sponsored the bill legalizing medical marijuana and says he may sponsor an amendment next legislative session to address doctors’ concerns.

“I am concerned because at this point it seems like a lot of folks are having trouble,” Dibble said.

The Hundleys say they have finally found the right doctor and have made an appointment for next Monday. They hope to be able to get the medical cannabis by the middle of next week.

“It would be life-changing for us,” Beth Hundley said.

State officials have said they are confident that over time more doctors and patients will register for the medical marijuana program.

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Beth Hundley and other patients have turned for help from two Facebook groups specifically set up to help Minnesota patients. Click here to visit the Facebook groups Patient Only – MN for Medical Cannabis and MN Parents for Cannabis.

Esme Murphy