The State of Minnesota is poised to join the ranks of the more than half of all U.S. states that have legalized the use of the marijuana flower for medical purposes. Currently, in Minnesota, medical marijuana is only legal if it is in the form of a pill, which traditionally is markedly more expensive than the flower. The bill, which is part of a larger piece of legislation, was approved by the state legislature, and Governor Tim Walz has signaled that he will sign the bill into law if it comes across his desk.
A Cost-Reducing Measure
Currently, only two manufacturers are licensed to produce medical marijuana in Minnesota. This is largely due to the expensive and time-consuming method of converting the plant into pill form. This pill-making process requires an independent analysis by a laboratory, which drives up the cost of the pills even further. As a result of the limitations on the form, Minnesota consistently has ranked as one of the costlier states in which to purchase medical marijuana. Reportedly, thousands of Minnesota residents have a qualifying condition that would permit them to use medical marijuana, but they are unable to access it due to the limited availability and high cost of the pills. Advocates of the legislation hope that it will draw in a host of new growers and distributers, thereby making the drug more affordable to those who need it.
Unanimous Support In The Senate
Earlier this year, the state’s Senate committee passed the bill with a unanimous vote, surprising even medical marijuana advocates. Still, there are detractors who caution that the proliferation of the drug may result in higher addiction rates and other substance abuse-related issues. Doctors who prescribe marijuana are worried about the health effects that could result from the use of the marijuana flower, which is typically done by the inhalation of smoke.
Potential For Legalized Recreational Use
Advocates hope that this legislation will further the conversation about legalizing marijuana for recreational use. Currently, only two Midwest states permit adult recreational cannabis usage—Michigan and Illinois. Minnesota, whose Senate is controlled by Republicans, faces an uphill battle in terms of legal recreational usage. While a bill was introduced earlier this year, industry insiders are skeptical of its potential for success, as similar bills have been defeated or allowed to die without even going to vote in the legislature.