ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Starting Friday, Minnesota’s medical marijuana program will expand to a new group of patients.

Those suffering from intractable pain can start registering for the treatment with doctor approval. However, they won’t have access to medical marijuana until Aug. 1.

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The program expansion comes one year after medical cannabis sales became legal in Minnesota. Friday morning, the final two of the state’s eight dispensaries opened in Hibbing and St. Paul.

On the opening day of the newest Leafline Lab dispensary in St. Paul, the company’s CEO Dr. Andrew Bachman can’t help but look back at the last year.

“Feels like 20 years sometimes but, in a year, we’ve come a thousand miles, really,” Dr. Bachman said.

Twelve months ago, Minnesota’s medical marijuana program was in its infancy.
Leafline had just one dispensary in Eagan. As of Friday, its facilities will serve patients in the Twin Cities, St. Cloud, and the iron range.

“Being on the cutting edge of medicine in that portion of the state is something long overdue,” Dr. Bachman said.

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The opening of a new dispensary in Hibbing will help families like the Weavers. Ten-year-old Amelia has a severe form of epilepsy. Before medical marijuana, her mom Angie said Amelia suffered nearly 100 seizures a day. Ever since she started her treatment, that number has dropped to almost zero due to the medication.

“For our daughter it’s been less seizures and more quality of life,” said Amelia’s mom, Angie Weaver.

Yet, the improvement in health came at a cost. Every month the Weaver family was driving 300 miles to visit the Eagan Leafline facility since there wasn’t a medical marijuana dispensary close to their home.

“This is just so huge for northern Minnesota patients and definitely for Amelia and my family,” Angie said.

More families now have access as the medical cannabis program expands to new group of patients.

“It’s a big deal. It’s a big day,” Dr. Bachman said.

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Nearly 1,600 patients are currently registered for medical marijuana in the state.