While many jurisdictions across the United States have taken steps towards the full legalization of cannabis products for both medical and recreational purposes, Minnesota has been a traditionally conservative state in this matter. Its medical marijuana program began as recently as 2014, covering only a few conditions and making it hard for patients to access cannabis even when in real need.
In the beginning of December, however, state authorities decided to add chronic pain and eye disease to the list of illnesses for which marijuana can be prescribed. The change comes after months of pressure from civil society organizations such as Sensible Change, which gained bipartisan support after proposing an initiative under which patients suffering from chronic pain for more than 6 months could have access to cannabis products.
Why is This Important?
According to the Department of Health, more than 20% of the population in the United States suffers from chronic pain. Several studies have shown that the components of marijuana are effective in reducing the activity of certain neuroreceptors in the brain and thus relieving generalized pain. It is expected that having access to cannabis will significantly improve the quality of life of thousands of Minnesotans who are currently unable to access a natural and reliable treatment for their condition.
In 2019, two surveys were carried out by Minnesota´s House of Representatives and Senate, respectively. The first one shows that 56% of the voters were in favour of marijuana´s legalization, while the latter showed a similar result at 55% of pro-cannabis votes.
How Can I Access Legal Medical Cannabis in Minnesota?
While some states such as Michigan have recently legalized marijuana for both medical and recreational purposes and currently only require buyers to be more than 21 years old and have a valid state ID, the process is more complex in Minnesota.
According to the state´s Department of Health, a 5-step registration procedure must be followed to become a registered patient and be able to obtain legal marijuana products in Minnesota. If your condition is eligible, you must:
- Contact a health practitioner.
- Wait for the practitioner´s certification and begin the online registration process within 90 days.
- Upload the required documents online and wait up to 30 days for your application´s approval.
- Visit a Cannabis Patient Center and consult a pharmacist to receive the dosage and type of cannabis you require.
- Fill up a self-evaluation form after your visit.
Is There Anything I Should Worry About?
In states where recreational marijuana has been legalized, several restrictions and conflicting laws are making potential users think twice before visiting the local dispensary. While landlords can ban cannabis smoking in their properties and employees can fire employers with high THC levels in certain jurisdictions, Minnesotans are protected by the SF 2470 law.
While this act of legislation falls in the broad category of employment discrimination, it makes clear that no legal cannabis patient can be terminated or penalized by their employer solely for their status.