Broadened law lets Minnesota hospitals dispense medical marijuana

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When medical cannabis becomes legal this July in pill and liquid form, patients will be able to obtain it at Minnesota hospitals and health care facilities.

According to an announcement by the Minnesota Department of Health, the Legislature has expanded the availability of medical marijuana to include hospitals, where terminally ill patients are often treated. The patient must be listed on the Minnesota medical cannabis patient registry.

The original law authorizing health care providers to dispense the drug didn't include hospitals, but the law has been amended to include facilities that will be allowed to "control, dispense and manage the use of cannabis."

Gov. Mark Dayton has signed the bill allowing for the change.

State officials do not expect hospitals to acquire the drug from Minnesota's two dispensers. Instead, "patients or their families could bring their own supply, and have it managed with other medication by hospital staff," assistant state health commissioner Manny Munson-Regala told MPR News.

More information is available on the Minnesota Health Department's medical cannabis website.

Earlier this week, the Star Tribune reported Minnesota doctors won’t write prescriptions for medical marijuana or decide how strong a dose patients will receive.

Instead, the doctor will simply confirm if the patient has a qualifying condition by answering a yes or no questions on a form.

The story says pharmacists will write the prescriptions, and notes the legislature wrote the law "to shield doctors from the possible legal consequences of prescribing a federally banned substance."

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