Every single medical pot pick-up spot is now open – but it's still a long haul for some

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One year ago, Minnesota began letting people (legally, and only in pill or liquid form) use medical marijuana.

Since then, there have been a few big developments – two of which you'll see in action starting Friday, July 1.

1) It will soon be an option for pain

People with constant pain that hasn't gone away after other treatment (called "intractable pain') can now start applying to use medical cannabis.

When the state's medical marijuana program first rolled out, there were nine conditions that qualified someone for the drug. Intractable pain was not on that list.

But late last year, the Minnesota Department of Health decided to make pain a qualifying condition after getting overwhelming feedback in favor of doing so.

There's a process to go through, but someone suffering from intractable pain can now speak with a certified doctor and – if they're approved – start picking up the medicine on Aug. 1

The Department of Health says it expects more patients because of this addition, but it isn't sure how many.

2) All 8 pick-up locations are now open

The plan was to have eight places across Minnesota for patients to pick up medical cannabis – four in the Twin Cities, and four in Greater Minnesota, and split among two different companies.

They'll have reached that goal on Friday.

Minnesota Medical Solutions opened its fourth and final dispensary in Bloomington Monday.

And LeafLine Labs has its final two locations opening Friday – one in St. Paul, and one in Hibbing.

That doesn't necessarily mean it's easy for everyone to reach. A criticism immediately was that Minnesotans in some areas of the state would ultimately have to travel really far to reach one of these dispensaries.

There are no plans to open more dispensaries, but the department said back in 2014 it's open to it, but it'd be up to lawmakers.

More on medical cannabis

There are 1,548 patients approved to use medical pot, as of June 23. Meanwhile there are 570 doctors or physicians approved to certify patients. That's been a problem before, with hopeful medical marijuana users sometimes unable to find a doctor who would prescribe it.

People that have been using it have generally found it helpful. The state's Department of Health did a survey recently, and two-thirds of the people who responded said it had "significant" benefits.

In the same survey, they identified the biggest issue as cost. That's been a problem since the program’s early days – most insurance companies don’t consider it an eligible treatment, so patients have to pay everything up front. That led the state’s two marijuana providers – LeafLine Labs and Minnesota Medical Solutions – to start offering discounts and loyalty programs.

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