As the day approaches when medical marijuana becomes legal in Minnesota, we're getting a look inside the stores that will sell the drug to patients.
Suppliers of medical cannabis are setting up several dispensaries in communities around Minnesota, with an emphasis on patient comfort and security, according to MPR News.
Beginning Wednesday, patients in Minnesota who have one of nine specific medical conditions can be prescribed medical marijuana, but the drug cannot be smoked. It can only be dispensed as a pill or a liquid.
Two companies - Minnesota Medical Solutions and LeafLine Labs - are processing marijuana plants into the medicine. The medicine will then be distributed to patients through the dispensaries.
Minnesota Medical Solutions' clinic in downtown Minneapolis will be the first to open - at midnight Wednesday. When patients arrive, they'll be greeted at the door by security personnel, according to Dr. Kyle Kingsley, founder and CEO of Minnesota Medical Solutions.
"The only people that are going to be allowed in here after July 1 will be patients, parents and registered care givers," Kingsley said, according to MPR News.
Once they are inside, patients will feel like they're in a typical medical clinic - with no obvious signs of marijuana on display.
Patients will consult with a medical specialist on staff to discuss the appropriate dosage and type of cannabis - pill or liquid form - that will best treat their condition, the Star Tribune reports.
LeafLine Labs will open its first dispensary in Eagan at 10 a.m. Wednesday, according to the Star Tribune.
Dr. Andrew Bachman, one of the company's founders, said the dispensary will have a "spa-like atmosphere," with acupuncture, yoga and massage therapies available on site.
"We are looking to have an experience that is in some ways holistic and completely devoted to a patient's health and wellness," Bachman told MPR News.
Six more marijuana dispensaries will open in the next few months in St. Paul, Rochester, St. Cloud, Moorhead, Hibbing and Eden Prairie.
According to the Star Tribune, a one-month supply of medical cannabis will cost $300 to $600 or more. And patients will need to purchase the drug in cash, since marijuana is still illegal at the federal level and most banks and credit card companies won't process transactions for it.
The number of people signing up to receive medical marijuana is lower than earlier predicted. As of Friday, 139 people had been certified to use the medication, and 65 have been given final approval to do so, according to the Health Department’s Office of Medical Cannabis.
State officials had projected 5,000 people would sign up initially.