Medical pot registration continues at sluggish pace, but number of patients growing

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The number of Minnesotans ready to pick up medical cannabis prescriptions when the drug becomes legal in the state next month is slowly rising, but is still nowhere near reaching the 5,000 eligible for the program.

In just over two weeks since registration opened, 14 patients have been fully approved to receive medical cannabis on July 1, up from just eight patients a week ago, according to the latest numbers from the Minnesota Department of Health.

This means that they have been certified by a doctor (which legally must happen before they can be prescribed marijuana), completed the registration process and made all necessary payments.

However, the numbers also show that final approval is pending for an additional 51 patients.

Enrollment got off to a "slow start," the Star Tribune observed last week.

The state estimated that 5,000 people would enroll in the program in its first year, according to the Duluth News Tribune, while one of the two companies manufacturing the state's medical cannabis announced an $8 million expansion last week, anticipating huge demand.

What about the doctors?

Meanwhile, compared with the low number of patients fully registered, there are plenty of doctors willing to certify their patients for medical pot use.

This is despite concerns that were raised when a recent survey found the vast majority of Minnesota's doctors would likely not be participating in the program due to the drug's remaining "illegal" status at the federal level.

According to the new registration figures, out of the 162 health care practitioners that have applied to participate in the program, 70 are "registered and authorized" to certify patients for medical cannabis use.

This is up from 54 last week.

For more information about the program, including a list of qualifying conditions, click here.

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