Medical Cannabis in Minnesota

Yesterday, Dr. Kyle Kingsley, the CEO of Vireo Health and ex-CEO of Minnesota Medical Solutions, wrote a compelling opinion piece in the MinnPost that proposed a way to make the Minnesota Medical Cannabis Program more affordable: allow flower. He proposes that Minnesota could make available high-quality plant products and not only the more medication-like extracts. It would also make Minnesota more similar to all of the other medical cannabis states who already allow “flower” or plant products in their programs.

This may make dosing more difficult due to the inexactness of vaporizing or smoking plant products, but it has the advantage of making medical cannabis more accessible and affordable to patients. Rational minds may disagree on this point but, given the history of Minnesota’s program and the economic difficulties suffered by both patients and the companies administering the program, Dr. Kingsley has a good point.

I am inclined to agree with Dr. Kingsley, but I think I would take it a step further to improve affordability. This would be to allow self-growing for patients. Now many people may disagree with this and perhaps even Dr. Kingsley since it would introduce an unregulated and consistency problem to the grown medical cannabis at the very least.

However, if Minnesota Medical Solutions and LeafLine Labs were allowed to sell the plants directly to patients for personal cultivation in order to maintain some level of consistency, this may be a way to maintain consistency and quality, while further improving affordability.

Currently, medical cannabis is too expensive for the average patient to afford. It easily costs several hundred dollars a month for many patients. It is also very difficult for the Minnesota companies to survive in a market where few doctors certify patients and medical cannabis’ affordability is so low. It makes for a very small patient-base that may make the Minnesota program itself unsustainable in the long run.

Some change needs to be made for the program to survive and so that it becomes more affordable to patients. Dr. Kingsley’s proposal is a sound one, but perhaps it doesn’t take the idea far enough. We can provide patients with high quality plants to be grown at home and guidance on how to cure and use them in a medical fashion. There are many examples of well-regulated programs that achieve this goal and Minnesota can too.

Ethan Carruthers