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Medical marijuana is not covered by most health insurance. A ruling issued by the Minnesota Supreme Court this week said an employer could not be made to pay for medical cannabis to treat a worker injured on the job.
It’s also hoped that legalizing the sale of what’s referred to in the law as “dried raw cannabis” will bring people who use illicit supplies back into the state program. That will increase business for the suppliers, but it will also increase safety for consumers. “We don’t want patients getting unsafe product from the illicit market,” Schroeder said. “We want them getting product from the legal market that has been tested for molds, mildews, heavy metals, pesticides, etc.”
Darin Teske, the policy and legal counsel for the medical cannabis office, is charged with producing the new rules. He said he looked first to other states that allow smoking of raw dried cannabis. He also met with advocacy groups and the two providers to assess problems and solutions.
Schroeder has been part of the advisory groups working with the state on the rules and said she is pleased with the proposed rules. She said she was especially pleased with the amount of supply patients can purchase at one time. The Legislature capped that amount at a 90-day supply, but the rules defined what such a supply looks like — 450 grams, with the ability to request larger amounts.
The comment period is open until Nov. 8 and Teske said a final draft should be ready by early December for review by the health commissioner, the governor’s office and other agencies involved with formal rulemaking.
Advocates, patients and the two providers of medical cannabis told lawmakers that the existing ban on selling the actual plant might have doubled monthly costs to patients. That, and the preference by some to smoke marijuana or make their own edibles has driven many patients who would be eligible for the program to the illicit market.
The state office charged with regulating medical cannabis in Minnesota is in the midst of drafting rules that will finish the work of making the biggest change in the program’s seven-year history: allowing patients to buy marijuana in plant form and smoke it — something that was explicitly banned by the 2014 legislation.
Minnesota has had a medical cannabis law on the books since 2014. But it's one of the nation’s most restrictive because it only allows for the delivery of cannabis in liquid, oil and pill forms. If Gov. Tim Walz signs the bill as expected, the law will soon allow for the combustion of dried raw cannabis.
Conditions eligible to be treated with medical cannabis in Minnesota
“It will help me have a legal route to get it in plant form, and that means safety,” Schroeder said. “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.”
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Inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease