Company leaders and local officials celebrated the grand opening of LeafLine Labs, a medical marijuana production facility in Cottage Grove, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday.
“Only in Minnesota, horticulture meets medicine," said Dr. Andrew Bachman, co-founder and chief medical officer of the company, according to the South Washington County Bulletin. “This is a new era of health care in Minnesota. And hope is grown here.”
LeafLine Labs is one of the two companies in the state allowed to manufacture medical marijuana. The other is Minnesota Medical Solutions, based in Otsego. They can begin delivering the medicine to patients on July 1, but only in liquid, vapor or pill form, and only to treat nine specific medical conditions.
The LeafLine facility is 42,000 square feet, and has several large rooms designed for growing marijuana plants, extracting the medicine and packaging the final product for patients, according to the Bulletin. The facility can grow about 5,000 plants at a time, but currently has about half that many.
It takes about four months for the plants to go from seeds to medicine, company officials said.
Bachman noted that the company was careful about choosing the types of cannabis plants to grow, WCCO reports, so they would be most effective at treating the approved medical conditions, which include epilepsy, cancer, multiple sclerosis and glaucoma.
For a patient to receive medical marijuana, a doctor must certify that the patient has one of the qualifying conditions. Then the patient will be referred to one of eight patient cannabis centers in the state, where a pharmacist will review the patient’s account and recommend a specific dosage and type before the patient receives the drug.
The Minnesota Department of Health says only 14 people have completed the registration process but another 65 are in the middle of the process to receive the drug, according to WCCO.
There are 162 physicians in the process of joining the program so that they can certify patients’ conditions; 70 doctors have already been authorized.
Even though the participation numbers are starting out slowly, the two manufacturers are confident they'll grow. In fact, Minnesota Medical Solutions announced last week it's already planning to expand its facility in Otsego, even before it's officially open.
Minnesota Medical Solutions opened its doors for media tours in May.