Qualified patients can begin registering for state's medical marijuana program

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Patients can now start registering with Minnesota's new medical marijuana program so they can start receiving the drug when it becomes legal July 1.

Registration for the program begins 9 a.m. Monday, and about 5,000 Minnesotans are expected to be eligible.

But qualified patients may still face a hurdle getting the prescription.

In order to register for the program, patients must have a qualifying condition, like cancer, glaucoma, or HIV/AIDS, and get certification from their doctor.

But some 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 Minnesota Medical Association (MMA) notes.

The MMA has taken a neutral stand on the state's medical marijuana law, its website notes. Dr. Richard Thorson, president of the MMA, told KARE 11 about 25 percent of doctors are willing to certify patients, while 50 percent are undecided and the remaining 25 percent said they don't do it.

Thorson told The Associated Press that some doctors will want to see how the program rolls out before certifying patients.

Medical marijuana will become legal in pill, liquid and oil form July 1. It will eventually be available at eight locations across the state, with three centers – Minneapolis, Eagan and St. Cloud – expected 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.

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