Minnesota’s medical cannabis patients to benefit from cost-saving thanks to program expansion

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Minnesota, which has one of the most limited medical cannabis laws in the United States, will soon allow program-enrolled patients to gain easier access to smokable pharmaceutical plant-based products. 

The price tag attached to products featured under the state’s medical cannabis program – such as oils, pills and liquids – is renowned for being on the steep side. 

However, based on a newly introduced bill, people on a lower income will be able to obtain smokable medical cannabis medicines for an affordable price as of next year.

Minnesota’s cost-saving medical cannabis bill has already gained approval in the House and Senate. Democratic Gov. Tim Walz is expected to sign the large-scale bill, which will grant registered patients’ access to smokable cannabis products.

Patients in Minnesota stand to benefit from affordable smokable medical cannabis products

Broadening the options in Minnesota’s medical cannabis program to include smokable products means that patients can start spending less and accessing more.

One particular medical cannabis patient, Patrick McClellan of Bloomington, recently spoke to reporters about his views. He said that the cost of purchasing liquid cannabis has made it almost impossible for people on a lower income to maintain a consistent dosing schedule.

The Minnesotan resident, who relies on the green plant to relieve the symptoms of muscular dystrophy, believes that a smokable option demonstrates the most significant update to the state’s medical cannabis program since its inception in 2014.

“What we ended up with is basically a designer drug for the rich. This was only for people that could afford it,” McClellan said. “Most people like me, who are on disability, were forced then to purchase some from the manufacturers and then products that have been smuggled in from other states that we purchase on the street.”

Maren Schroeder of Stewartville is another program participant who is happy about Minnesota’s smokable medical cannabis bill. She claims that, in the past, she has paid upwards of $250 on a monthly basis for her medicine.

“It will help me have a legal route to get it in plant form, and that means safety. That means everything I’m consuming has been lab tested and isn’t contaminated with mold or mildew or pesticide or herbicide or anything like that. So, I’m really excited about it,” Schroeder expressed.

Medical cannabis patients could pay one-third the price of oils and pills 

Chairwoman of the Minnesota Senate Health and Human Services Committee asserts that the implementation of affordable and smokable medical cannabis in Minnesota is reflective of the committee’s desires to help ease the cost burden for patients.

“It is not our goal to make this a path to legalization,” she said at a Senate debate that took place on Monday, May 17. “It’s a goal to make this available to people with a medical need who cannot afford it. So, we hope we’ve reached the right balance.”

Since the cost of Minnesota’s existing range of cannabis-infused oils and pills are anticipated to fall to around one-third under the state’s cost-saving medical cannabis bill, she makes a good point.

According to Democratic House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler of Golden Valley, the cost-saving benefits will become apparent once the law is activated on March 1, 2022. 

Alternatively, it is possible that Minnesota’s smokable medical cannabis bill could be effectuated once a raw cannabis testing procedure has been introduced for manufacturers currently operating around the state.