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Discounts, reward programs continue for slow-growing medical pot biz

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The discounts for medical pot will continue.

Minnesota Medical Solutions is continuing its 50 percent off deal for first-time customers, it announced Monday.

The deal – which was initially started back in September, and was set to end Oct. 31 – will now continue through 2015.

There’s also a loyalty program for its 300-plus existing patients, according to a news release. Points can be earned with each purchase, and redeemed to pay for some of the medicine’s cost in the future.

The company is one of two allowed to distribute medical cannabis in Minnesota. The other is LeafLine Labs, which has its own discount program: 15 percent off any time you buy a month's supply of the medicine.

That was announced in September – a few weeks later LeafLine said on Facebook it was also implementing a loyalty rewards program.

There have frequently been questions about the cost of the program – insurance doesn't cover medical marijuana, and WCCO reported some patients were spending $500 or more each month for a prescription.

The Associated Press reported high costs are leading some patients to abandon the pills and oils sold through Minnesota’s regulated medical cannabis program and instead purchase smokeable marijuana from street dealers.

Meanwhile, a few weeks ago the Star Tribune reported on the next possible step – allowing patients suffering from pain to use the drug.

But within the story was another finding: That the business wasn't yet profitable. Low enrollment numbers (they'd expected about 5,000 and currently have about 662) have the companies stockpiling the meds, awaiting an expected rush of patients in the future.

That could come if pain is approved as the 10th qualifying condition. The Star Tribune says in most states with medical cannabis, pain is the most common reason customers use the drug.

The Minnesota Department of Health began asking for the public's input earlier this year.

The latest enrollment figures from the Minnesota Department of Health, as of Oct. 29:

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