Minnesota and Cannabis. What You Should Know
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When it comes to medical marijuana, every state has been left to determine its own legalities and allowances. In Minnesota, the law took some time to hammer out, but it has quickly become one of the most open laws of all the states that have MMJ programs in place. Although the initial passing of the law took some compromise, the law now offers a medical alternative for those with certain qualifying conditions. In this guide, we’ll cover everything that you need to know about qualifying for, obtaining, and using a medical marijuana card in Minnesota.
Medical Marijuana Minnesota
The first dispensary in Minnesota opened on July 1, 2015. Since then, medical cannabis use has become more widespread as people seek it out as an alternative to other treatment options. For some, it may be the only possible chance for relief, such as with chemotherapy-induced nausea that cannot be resolved with other medications.
Medical marijuana in Minnesota has changed a little since it was first made legal. If you think that you may be able to qualify under Minnesota medical marijuana laws, it is time to talk to your healthcare provider or find one that can make recommendations for medical marijuana use.
Does Minnesota Have Medical Marijuana?
Yes, medical marijuana has been legal in Minnesota for almost a decade now. The state initially passed tight legislation with limited allowances. Revisions have been made to the law over the years to include a growing list of conditions and causes for the prescription or recommendation for medical marijuana.
The medical marijuana program is carefully monitored and controlled by the health commissioner, who licensed two in-state manufacturing facilities, which can each have four distribution locations around the state. However, these can’t be within 1,000 feet of a school and they must comply with other regulations, as well.
In the state of Minnesota, the law states that only pharmacists can dispense cannabis, which is available in several forms. The original law allowed for liquids, oils, and pills made from cannabis plants, including whole extracts and resins. In 2021, a bill was approved that would allow raw cannabis purchase and consumption (flower), opening up the possibilities for qualifying patients.
Is Marijuana Legal in Minnesota for Recreational Use?
Currently, Minnesota does not offer any legal recreational marijuana consumption. All recreational activities and any marijuana use or purchase without a medical card are considered illegal and will be subject to prosecution under both state and federal laws. Minnesota only recognizes medical use and has limits on how much each patient can consume within a certain time period.
The latest marijuana news suggests that states like Minnesota will soon be on a quest for the legalization of recreational marijuana and total decriminalization, but that remains to be seen. Fortunately, there are several qualifying conditions and reasons to be recommended for this type of treatment, opening it up to millions of residents within the state.
How to Qualify for Medical Marijuana
To qualify for medical marijuana, Minnesota requires that all patients who suspect they may have a qualifying condition visit one of the approved providers and receive a diagnosis and recommendation. The law goes further to state that the provider should be the one responsible for the treatment of the patient, which is designed to prevent people from walking into any doctor’s office and walking out with a recommendation.
Once the recommendation has been made by the provider and filed with the state, applicants can apply for and receive their card through the state’s health commissioner. In the section below, you’ll see a complete list of all the current medical marijuana Minnesota conditions that qualify.
Minnesota Medical Marijuana Qualifying Conditions
In the state of Minnesota, certain qualifying conditions dictate who can and cannot receive a recommendation for medical marijuana. Some conditions or qualifying illnesses will be based on level of severity, such as in later stages of diseases when things like wasting, chronic pain, and severe nausea can make life unbearable.
As of the current legislation, qualifying conditions in Minnesota include:
- Chronic pain
- Cancer (severe or end-stage)
- Tourette’s Syndrome
- ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease)
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Severe and persistent spasms (such as MS)
- Crohn’s Disease
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Terminal illness with less than one year to live with severe symptoms
Doctors can submit and petition for the addition of conditions or the exception of a certain condition based on criteria used to determine the initial list (chronic pain, wasting, severe illness or ailments not otherwise treatable or curable, etc.). It will be up to the registry board to decide whether any allowances will be made outside of the published list of conditions.
How to Get Medical Marijuana Card Minnesota
Before Minnesota residents can apply for a medical marijuana card, they need to visit a qualified provider and be diagnosed and referred by them for medical marijuana as a treatment. Doctors and nurse practitioners can certify patients, as can select physicians’ assistants. The only caveat is that the practitioner must be responsible for treating the qualifying condition in question.
Once patients have been certified, patients can then enroll in the registry and pay a registration fee. The application is good for a year, and those who are on disability or Medicaid programs may be eligible for discounts on their card fees and other expenses.
Apply for Medical Marijuana Card Minnesota
The application process for a medical marijuana card is fairly simple. First, you have to request a visit with a healthcare practitioner that can certify patients for medical marijuana in the state. Once you get certified by a provider, that certification is good for 90 days, but you should enroll immediately to avoid complications or a lapse in application approval.
You can register online with a government-issued ID and your medical recommendation for a medical marijuana card. If you are eligible for the discounted fee structure, you’ll also need proof of the disability or other income restrictions that are in place here. Then, you pay the fee online via credit card and you will be emailed when your application has been approved.
Approval can take up to 30 days, so patients are encouraged to apply as soon as possible and watch their email for a confirmation from the state.
Minnesota medical marijuana card cost
The cost of a Minnesota medical marijuana card is $200 and that must be paid each year that the cardholder is enrolled. That $200 fee can be discounted to just $50 for patients who are on SSI, Social Security Disability, or MinnesotaCare or medical assistance programs.
The payment is due at the time of enrollment. Those who are unable to pay or who want to find out if they qualify for a discount will need to contact the state directly.
How to Buy Medical Marijuana in Minnesota
To buy medical marijuana in Minnesota, you have to find a licensed Minnesota medical marijuana dispensary. There is only a handful so far, but they are out there. Once your registration is approved, you can visit a Minnesota dispensary for medical cannabis. A pharmacist will review your profile and suggest their recommendations for different types and dosages to assist, based on your qualifying condition. You will pay for all purchases directly to the dispensary at the time of purchase.
Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in Minnesota
There are a total of 13 dispensaries across the state of Minnesota at the time of this writing. Patients can visit one of the many dispensaries with their medical marijuana card and their state ID to purchase up to a 30-day supply, but it does not have to be purchased all at once or from the same dispensary.
Not surprisingly, many of the dispensaries are located in the greater Minneapolis-St. Paul region, but there is also a dispensary in Fargo, Rochester, Duluth, and St. Cloud. It is likely as the program expands, more locations will be made available.
Minnesota Marijuana Growing Laws
According to state law, patients and caregivers in Minnesota are not permitted to grow cannabis in their homes (or any other facility). It is still illegal in the state to cultivate or distribute marijuana unless you are one of the certified manufacturers or dispensaries that the state has created to allow the dispensing of medical marijuana.
So, the short answer to “how many plants can I grow?” is none. Only approved cultivators and manufacturers can legally grow and distribute marijuana in the state.
Some people will tell you that Minnesota has “no laws” on growing, but that just means they don’t specify what happens to those who are caught. However, you will be held accountable under state and federal law for possession and cultivation, as well as risk losing your medical license, if you are growing marijuana in the state of Minnesota.
For now, qualifying patients will have to rely on the handful of dispensaries throughout the state to obtain their marijuana for medical purposes. In time, the laws may change, but this conservative state is going to take its time.