Minnesota Medical Marijuana

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What is Medical Marijuana in Minnesota?

Minnesota legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes in 2014, when Governor Mark Dayton signed the Minnesota Medical Cannabis Act into law. According to the Act, medical marijuana in Minnesota is any specie of the cannabis plant or its derivatives, including extracts, preparations, mixtures, and resins. This Minnesota Cannabis Act permits the State's Commissioner of Health to approve the medical use of cannabis if delivered in the form of:

  • Liquids (including oils)
  • Pills
  • Vaporized delivery methods that use oils or liquids
  • All other methods approved by the commissioner, except smoking.

Minnesotans cannot use marijuana for medical purposes without approval from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). Every prospective user of medical cannabis must be evaluated and certified by a state licensed physician. This evaluation confirms the user is suffering from any of the approved conditions for medical marijuana treatment. After the assessment and approval of the application, the patient will be enrolled into the state's medical cannabis program. This then entitles the patient to possess, purchase, and consume a specified amount of medical marijuana.

Is Medical Marijuana Legal in Minnesota?

Yes, Minnesota allows patients to use medical marijuana to treat certain debilitating conditions. Governor Mark Dayton decriminalized medical marijuana in 2014 when he signed the Minnesota Cannabis Therapeutic Research Act (MCTRA) into law. The MCTRA gave legal backing to the creation of the Minnesota Medical Cannabis Patient Registry, the state's medical marijuana program. According to the law, it is the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH)'s responsibility to supervise the program. Consequently, the MDH set up a bureau, the Office of Medical Marijuana, for this purpose. The state began accepting applications from prospective patients in June 2015, while actual medical cannabis distribution commenced about a month later.

At the time of legalization, Minnesota's medical marijuana laws were one of the strictest in the country. The state only allowed patients to use medical marijuana to alleviate nine debilitating conditions. Furthermore, Minnesota did not approve the use of medical cannabis in its smokable dried raw form initially. Subsection 6, Section 152.22 of the MCTRA only permitted patients to prepare, deliver, or use medical marijuana in these forms:

  • Liquids (including oils)
  • Pills
  • Smokable or vaporizable cannabis (without the use of dried cannabis leaves)

However, the MDH has since added more illnesses to the list of qualifying conditions. For example, the MDH announced the inclusion of two debilitating conditions, sickle cell disease and chronic vocal or motor disorder, in December 2020. In addition, the latest amendment to Minnesota Statutes 152.22 Subsection 6 now permits patients to use combustible dried raw cannabis from March 1, 2022.

Who Can Get Medical Marijuana in Minnesota?

Minnesota permits individuals aged 18 or older to enroll in the state's medical marijuana program. These individuals must be residents of Minnesota diagnosed with any of the approved qualifying conditions. Currently, the qualifying medical conditions are:

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Cancer
  • Chronic motor or vocal tic disorder
  • Chronic pain
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn's disease
  • Intractable pain
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Seizures, including those caused by epilepsy
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Terminal illness, with a probable life expectancy of less than one year
  • Tourette syndrome

Can You Grow Medical Marijuana in Minnesota?

No, you cannot grow medical marijuana at home in Minnesota. Qualifying patients and caregivers must purchase medical cannabis from state-licensed manufacturers.

Do You Need to See a Doctor to Get Medical Marijuana in Minnesota?

Yes, you must see a doctor before participating in the Minnesota Medical Cannabis Patient Registry. Subdivision 9, Section 152.22 of the state's statutes defines a qualifying patient as a Minnesota resident diagnosed with a qualifying condition by a healthcare practitioner. In addition, Subdivision 4 of the same section defines a healthcare practitioner as a Minnesota-licensed doctor, physician assistant, or advanced practice registered nurse. One of these three healthcare professionals must diagnose you with a qualifying condition before you can enroll in the state's medical marijuana program. The state does not maintain a list of the healthcare professionals participating in the program.

Can a Minor Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Minnesota?

Minors under the age of 18 can also participate in Minnesota's medical marijuana program. However, their parents or legal guardians must file applications on their behalf and act as their primary caregivers.

How to Apply for a Medical Marijuana Card in Minnesota

Minnesota does not issue cards to patients enrolled in the state's medical marijuana program. However, patients can prove their participation by printing a verification document that becomes available once they log into their registry accounts.

The process of enrolling in Minnesota's medical marijuana program begins by visiting a state-licensed healthcare practitioner for a medical evaluation. This medical evaluation verifies the presence of any qualifying condition and validates an applicant's eligibility to participate in the program. One document necessary for this medical evaluation is the Patient E-mail and Acknowledgement Form. Applicants must download and print this form before the visit. Upon completion, the MDH mandates prospective patients to submit these forms to their evaluating healthcare practitioners. Additionally, prospective patients must request visit summaries from the healthcare professionals visited, detailing their current health status and prescribed medications. Subsequently, applicants receive further notifications by email soon after the medical assessments. Hence, applicants must ensure the validity of the email addresses provided because that will be the primary means of communication with the MDH.

The emails received contain a unique web link that leads applicants to the online registration portal. On this portal, applicants must provide all the required information and upload necessary government-issued IDs. Either the State of Minnesota ID or a driver's license is acceptable. Finally, applicants must pay the annual registration fees online. The MDH provides a helpful guide detailing the steps required to register in the Minnesota medical cannabis program.

Subdivision 6, Section 152.27 of the Minnesota Statutes requires the MDH to either accept or deny applications within 30 days of submission. The MDH, however, advises applicants to complete their online application within 60 days of receiving the physicians' certification notice.

Does Minnesota Allow Medical Marijuana Patients to Designate Caregivers?

Yes, Minnesota permits adults aged 18 and older to have designated caregivers. Also, minors cannot participate in Minnesota's medicinal cannabis program without the approval of their parents or legal guardians, who are also usually their primary caregivers. Designated caregivers help patients with the purchasing and administering of medical cannabis. Subdivision 11, Section 152.22 of the Minnesota Statutes outlines the necessary criteria required for prospective caregivers to meet. These are:

  • The designated caregiver must be 18 years or older
  • The individual must not have any disqualifying felony convictions
  • The Commissioner's Office in the state's Department of Health must authorize the designated individual to help the patient with the purchase and use of medical cannabis

What Is the Cost of a Minnesota Medical Marijuana Card?

Patients enrolled in Minnesota's medical marijuana program must pay a $200 annual registration fee. However, individuals receiving government-assisted funds can pay the reduced registration fee of $50. The eligible government funds include:

Every applicant receiving funds from these government benefits must upload documents to back up such claims. The MDH allows applicants to pay their registration fees online via credit/debit cards or US bank checks.

What Do You Need When Visiting a Medical Marijuana Dispensary in Minnesota?

You need to schedule an appointment with the closest licensed Medical Cannabis Dispensaries (dispensaries) before you can purchase medical cannabis. On the scheduled day, take these documents with you:

  • Completed Patient Self-Evaluation Form (available when you log into your registry account)
  • Government-issued ID (State of Minnesota ID or driver's license)
  • List of prescribed medications
  • Visit summary obtained from your certifying healthcare practitioner

Licensed dispensaries in Minnesota sell a wide range of medical marijuana products, including:

  • Raw cannabis flowers
  • Oils
  • Extracts
  • Sprays
  • Capsules
  • Pills

Minnesota laws permit caregivers and patients to purchase up to a 90-day supply of medical cannabis, depending on the evaluating healthcare practitioners' recommendations.

How to Renew Your Minnesota Medical Marijuana Card

You must renew your status as a Minnesota medical marijuana program patient annually as each approved application is only valid for a year. The process of renewing your registration as a Minnesota medical marijuana program patient is similar to becoming a new patient. Your healthcare practitioner must recertify you before you can re-enroll. Once you get recertified, you will receive an email from the MDH with a link to your medical cannabis registry account. Subsequently, log into your account and complete the re-enrolment application by providing the required information and uploading the necessary documents. Afterward, pay for the registration fee online via your debit/credit cards or through a US bank check.

The fee to renew a Minnesota medical marijuana registration is $200, while individuals on government-assisted funds pay $50. The MDH directs every patient to renew their medical marijuana registration before their given annual expiration date. Patients who do not renew their registrations before the expiry dates do not get accepted back into the program.

Is it Possible to Overdose on Cannabis in Minnesota?

Different reports cited by the MDH fail to establish concrete evidence linking prolonged or heavy use of marijuana to overdose and specific long-term effects. This inconclusiveness is because several other factors usually contribute to these effects, making it difficult to establish the role of cannabis. However, a report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed that heavy use of cannabis aggravates the usual accompanying effects. These include paranoia, increased heart rates, delusions, and increased blood pressure. Cannabis can also be an indirect cause of fatality if a person under the influence of marijuana gets behind a wheel and drives a vehicle. Conclusively, an excessive intake of cannabis will aggravate the side effects that the user experiences. However, a fatality from an overdose on marijuana is yet to be established.

If I am Pregnant, Can I Use Cannabis to Relieve Nausea in Minnesota?

The MDH strongly advises pregnant and breastfeeding women not to ingest or smoke cannabis, citing the possibility of cannabis causing harm to the developing fetus. The department also stated the possibility of breastfeeding women passing cannabis to the infant through breast milk.

In another published memo, the MDH again reiterated its strong opposition to the use of cannabis by pregnant and breastfeeding women. This particular memo targeted participants in the department's Women, Infants, and Children's (WIC) program. One major point raised in the memo cited the potential harmful effects of one of the compounds present in cannabis, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Ingesting or smoking cannabis causes the body to absorb THC, and it gets stored in the body's fat tissues, including the brain. Admittedly, the department acknowledged that researchers had not done enough study to establish the adverse effects of cannabis on pregnant or breastfeeding women. However, it relied on the public health policies of other states to make these clarifications:

  • The MDH prohibits pregnant women from ingesting or smoking cannabis because the safe amount of cannabis they can consume can not be determined.
  • Consumption of marijuana by a breastfeeding mother exposes the unborn child to the active THC compound.
  • The use of cannabis during pregnancy may have some effects on the developing fetus. These effects include an increased risk of stillbirth and possible heart defects in the exposed fetus
  • Some other effects on the child may not show till adolescence. These include reduced academic ability, decreased cognitive function, unstable attention span, and general delinquent behaviors
Minnesota Medical Marijuana