ST. PAUL, Minn. – Minnesota’s two medical marijuana growers have been approved to continue supplying cannabis for two more years.
On Wednesday, Minnesota Medical Solutions and LeafLine Labs received approval from Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Commissioner Ed Ehlinger to continue providing medical marijuana. Ehlinger re-registered the state’s two suppliers after reviewing the medical and economic impact since legalization.
“We are proud that Minnesota’s medical cannabis program has become a model for other states, but there have been challenges along the way as well,” Ehlinger told the Star Tribune.
Earlier this year, criminal charges were filed against two former officials from Minnesota Medical Solutions for transporting cannabis oil across state lines. Vireo Health, the parent company of Minnesota Medical Solutions, sells medical marijuana in Minnesota and New York. When the New York branch faced a shortage in December 2015, two officials from the Minnesota branch shipped more than 5 kilograms of concentrated marijuana oil to New York. Despite both states having legalized medical marijuana, shipping across state lines violates both state and federal laws.
Ehlinger told the Star Tribune that he did not consider the criminal charges against Minnesota Medical Solutions when extending their license. However, once the case is over MDH may issue sanctions against the company.
As of the end of June, there were over 7,700 approved enrollees in Minnesota’s medical marijuana program. Of the 7,700, over 6,100 are active participants using medical cannabis for conditions such as intractable pain, muscle spasms, and cancer. Starting this month, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is now a condition under which Minnesotan patients can participate in the state’s medical marijuana program.
By limiting the availability of medical marijuana to patients with 11 severe conditions, Minnesota is one of the most restrictive of the 30 states that allow medical marijuana. However, changes on the federal level could impact Minnesota’s program in the future. Sen. Cory Booker (NJ-D) recently introduced legislation that would legalize recreational marijuana at the federal level. The bill would would remove marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act and allow states to set their own policies. States who choose not to legalize marijuana could risk losing some criminal justice funding.