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Minnesota doctors 'cautious' about medical marijuana program

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Tthe vast majority of physicians in Minnesota are taking a wait-and-see attitude toward the state's new medical marijuana program, which begins on July 1.

The Minnesota Medical Association sent a survey to its 14,000 members earlier this week asking them whether they're planning to sign up for the program. Of the 457 who responded, only 9 percent said they plan to participate in the medical marijuana registry right off the bat.

More than two-thirds of respondents, 68 percent, say they don't plan to sign up. Another 17 percent said they haven't yet decided, according to a news release from the MMA.

Medical marijuana will be legal in Minnesota in liquid or pill form on July 1, for patients who have one of nine qualifying conditions such as glaucoma, seizure disorders, ALS or cancer. A doctor must certify that the patient has one of those conditions.

But the survey indicates many doctors aren’t willing to certify their patients because they’re worried that some of the drug’s affects are still unknown or because they’re nervous about violating federal law, which still bans medical marijuana, the MMA notes.

"I think this shows that the medical community is not as convinced that there is a significant benefit to using cannabis to treat those disease states," said David Thorson, the association's president-elect, according to MPR News.

The MMA has taken a neutral stand on the state’s medical marijuana law, its website notes.

Medical marijuana will eventually be available at eight locations across the state, with three centers – Minneapolis, Eagan and St. Cloud – planning to open July 1, the Star Tribune says.

At these patient cannabis centers, a pharmacist will review a patient’s account and recommend a specific dosage and type before the patient receives the drug.

Hospitals will also be able to dispense medical marijuana to patients listed on the state’s registry. Registration is $200 annually.

Enrollment for the program opened on Monday, and 30 physicians registered by the end of the first day, along with one patient, according to the Star Tribune.

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