Minnesota's medical marijuana program, one of the strictest in the country upon its inception, is loosening a bit further.
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) said Wednesday it plans to approve edibles, meaning patients will be able to take cannabis-infused gummies or chews. They'll be added to the growing list of permitted delivery forms on Aug. 1, 2022, following a rulemaking process, MDH says.
“Expanding delivery methods to gummies and chews will mean more options for patients who cannot tolerate current available forms of medical cannabis,” Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm said in the announcement.
Medical marijuana is currently available in the form of pills, vapor oil, liquids, topicals, powdered mixtures and orally dissolvable products (such as lozenges).
Dried, smokeable cannabis will be allowed by March 1, 2022, after the provision was included in the most recent omnibus health and human services bill that was passed by the Minnesota Legislature and signed by Gov. Tim Walz. Supporters argued the change would open up the restrictive, often-expensive program to more individuals by driving down prices.
Rulemaking for the smokeable medical marijuana is ongoing, MDH noted Wednesday, with the Legislature having previously ruled that smokable medical marijuana must be made available for recipients no later than Mar. 1, 2022.
The state's medical marijuana program still requires layers of approval. Patients must have one of the approved qualifying condition, a list which, like the delivery forms, has grown since the program's creation in 2014. There are currently 17 accepted conditions, with sickle cell disease and chronic vocal or motor tic disorder the most recent additions.
MDH said its Office of Medical Cannabis did an in-depth review of anxiety disorder to see if it should be added as a qualifying condition. But the department didn't approve its inclusion "due to a lack of scientific evidence to support effectiveness as well as concerns expressed by health care practitioners," MDH said.
Said Malcolm: “We received many comments from health care practitioners treating patients with anxiety disorder, and they urged us to not approve it as a qualifying medical condition. We recognize that not everyone has equal access to therapy — which is considered the front-line treatment — but ultimately we concluded that the risk of additional harms to patients outweighed perceived benefits.”