Minnesota lawmakers have approved a measure to allow smokable forms of cannabis in the state’s medical cannabis program, MPR News reports. Patrick McClellan, a medical cannabis activist, called the change “the most important” since the law’s passage in 2014.
“What we ended up with is basically a designer drug for the rich. This was only for people that could afford it. Most people like me, who are on disability, were forced then to purchase some from the manufacturers and then products that have been smuggled in from other states that we purchase on the street.” – McClellan to MPR
According to state Department of Health data, Minnesota patients spent on average $316 per month on medical cannabis in 2019 with prices ranging from $30 to about $200.
During Monday’s debate on the measure, Republican state Sen. Michelle Benson, chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, stressed that the change is about helping the state’s patients rather than “make this a path to legalization.”
“It’s a goal to make this available to people with a medical need who cannot afford it,” she said according to MPR. “So, we hope we’ve reached the right balance.”
The approval comes less than a week after lawmakers in the House approved a bill to legalize adult cannabis use in the state; however, that measure will not be considered by the Republican-controlled Senate as Majority Leader Paul Gazelka has described the reforms as “up in smoke” in the chamber.
Democratic Gov. Tim Walz is expected to sign the medical cannabis reform bill which will take effect March 1, 2022.
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