Renewed support from law officials is giving the government of Minnesota invigorated force as the state tries to develop new medical cannabis laws. The state may legalize medical marijuana, but the new statutes may limit the use of and access to the drug by the very people that need it most. New modifications to the proposed laws take away the choice for patients to ingest the drug through smoking, and introduces the need to run the medical cannabis through a series of clinical trials to test the effectiveness of the drug. The University of Minnesota may be called on to conduct the trial runs.
A House committee discussed late last week the most recent change to the bill, which would dictate that patients who are authorized to use medical cannabis may only use the substance under medical certification and only with a vaporizer, in oil or as a pill. Although Minnesota authorities do not support the allowed smoking of medical cannabis, adding a requirement to the bill that allows it under medical watch only has garnered more support.
Some watchdogs of the proceeding wondered to why law enforcement is even allowed to have a say in what they perceive should be left up to medical professionals and other such experts. In fact, law enforcement had been the ones most opposed to the previous endorsement, which would have made legal the ability to smoke medical cannabis. The group claims that smoking medical cannabis does not provide medical relief in any way, and is a gateway drug to other, more harmful drugs. They also believe that it is the actual plant itself that is responsible for the medical value that patients are actually seeking.
Minnesota is proposing a government-backed study into whether or not there is any medicinal advantage to medical cannabis being allowed to be accessed by the public in larger quantities. Unless the drug is taken as a tincture or in capsule form, the other option put out by the House, and recommended by the Senate, is to vaporize the product. Vaporizer-like products are on the market right now in the form of e-cigarettes, which can, in most states, be purchased at any convenience store. However, the vaporizers alluded to in the Senate and House versions are a bit different, as are who would be eligible for medical cannabis treatment.
Authorized patients suffering from such conditions as seizures, cancer, HIV and AIDS could qualify for medical cannabis treatment, which would be monitored by medical personnel working in government-run facilities. To date, there are only eight ailments recognized by the Minnesota government which qualifies a patient access to medical cannabis, although with growing support of the law, it is anticipated that the final law would give the state health commissioner the ability to add to the list of health conditions that are manageable by medical cannabis.
One state manufacturer of medical cannabis would be allowed to produce the product, according to the bill proposed by the House. This would apply only if researchers organizing the trial runs are unable to find the same item at a government-run supply station. The legislation in Minnesota would create 55 repositories that would be in charge of growing the medical cannabis and any dispensaries would be monitored by the Department of Health. Allotment of the drug would come while the patients participated in the experiments. They would need to get a doctor’s supporting letter in order to obtain an identification card from the Department of Health before they would be able to purchase the medical cannabis from the dispensaries. Federal law forbids the sale of medical cannabis in local pharmacies because it is classified as a dangerous drug.
Groups lobbying for medical cannabis reforms are apprehensive about the rate at which these kinds of studies are conducted. There have been a growing amount of families with children who need access to the product now and who are being denied access to the drug. These groups of people are getting fed up with the amount of time it is taking for the Minnesota government to put into effect laws that would have a medical benefit to themselves and the ones they love.
Costs for the research project would be covered by taxpayers. The Department of Health would receive $450,000 in compensation for conducting the study, and another $50,000 would go towards a government-sanctioned task force to research the medicinal value of medical cannabis. A projected cost of another $873,000 has been budgeted in for the two years the study is expected to last to cover law enforcement cannabis-related duties. To help recoup some of their losses, the Minnesota government will be charging dispensaries $15,000 a year to run while labs where data will be collected would pay $5,000 each year. This measure gains the State of Minnesota additional support while it pushes ahead with its medical cannabis reforms.
By Korrey Laderoute