The Minnesota Department of Health announced on Monday the names of the first two businesses to receive state-issued business licenses for the production, processing, and distribution of medical marijuana. The companies, LeafLine Labs and Minnesota Medical Solutions, were chosen from a list of twelve applicants — all of whom paid $20,000 in nonrefundable application fees — to become the state’s first MMJ manufacturers.
Minnesota’s medical marijuana law, which was passed earlier in 2014, only allows for non-smokable forms of cannabis. According to the department’s news release, “The two manufacturers will be responsible for growing the medical cannabis, processing it into pill or liquid form, and distributing the medications through a network of eight distribution sites (four sites per manufacturer) they will establish around the state.”
The companies were selected after a lengthy review process that considered all applicants’ operational stability, financial stability, business strategies, and many other factors. A panel of representatives from related industries — including the agricultural, pharmaceutical, public safety, commercial and financial sectors — oversaw the review process and made recommendations about the applicants.
The businesses were chosen because of their “commitment to the patient experience, technical proficiency in cultivation and the formulation of medicine, rigorous safety and security standards, and sound business planning and resources.”
Ultimately, the final selection was made by Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Ed Ehlinger, who said:
“We are pleased to have two strong partners for Minnesota’s medical cannabis program. Our goal is to safely provide medical cannabis products to patients with qualifying conditions by the deadline of July 1, 2015, and our attention over the next few months will be on working with these two manufacturers to implement the program and safely grow, process and distribute the products.”
LeafLine Labs is a Minnesota company founded by two emergency medicine physicians. Their team brings expertise founded in medicine, law, patient advocacy, business (especially in a regulated environment), and high-quality medication manufacturing. The company’s manufacturing center will be in Cottage Grove, and they plan to open their first distribution center in Eagan on July 1, 2015. Other distribution centers are expected to open within the following year in Hibbing, St. Cloud and St. Paul.
Minnesota Medical Solutions is a group of doctors, pharmacists, scientists, greenhouse operators, building contractors, educators and other professionals. The company will be working with industry experts for training and consulting purposes. Their manufacturing facility is in Otsego and will be functional by the end of this week. Distribution centers will open in July in Rochester, Maple Grove, Minneapolis and Moorhead.
Photo Credit: Michael Hicks