ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — One of the state’s two medical marijuana dispensaries will give patients a 15 percent discount if they get a monthly supply of medical cannabis.
The announcement comes as the number of patients enrolled in the state’s medical marijuana program remains lower than expected.
In the three-and-a-half months since Minnesota’s program started, only 491 patients are registered to get medical cannabis.
Patients with a range of chronic conditions, including forms of cancer and epilepsy, are eligible. Medical marijuana is not covered by insurance and the monthly cost to patients ranges from $100 a month to more than $500 a month.
Both patients and providers have said that price is a factor in keeping patients from registering.
Manny Munson-Regala, the CEO of LeafLine Labs, which announced the 15 percent discount, said in a statement that LeafLine is also seeing patients ration their medication and not get refills because of the cost.
Mark Petersen has HIV. His medical marijuana prescription, which he takes using a device similar to a vapor cigarette, costs him $640 a month after the 12 percent discount he gets for being on social security disability. Now, with an additional 15 percent discount, the monthly cost will be $500 a month.
“It would definitely help,” Petersen said.
Petersen said the $500 a month cost is still expensive, but it’s a big enough break to help him keep getting the medicine that is helping him.
“I am gaining weight clearly and that’s a good thing,” he said.
Petersen said it’s a huge relief to not have to buy marijuana on the street.
“It just took a lot of pressure off,” he said. “You are not dealing with street people. You are not dealing with illegal situations.”
Another cost to patients is that they have to pay $200 a year to be part of the state’s medical marijuana program. Those on medical assistance have to pay $50 a year.
Minnesota Medical Solutions, the other lab providing medical marijuana, did not respond to inquiries about whether they will be offering a discount, too.