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Number of patients in MN's medical marijuana program jumped 30 percent in July

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The number of patients enrolled in Minnesota's medical cannabis program jumped 30 percent this month.

That's according to the Minnesota Department of Health, which says 481 intractable pain patents were added to the program in July – the first month it was considered a qualifying condition – bringing the total number of certified patients to 1,827 as of July 29.

These patients, who are suffering from pain that can't be treated by other methods, will be able to start receiving medical marijuana for the first time on Monday.

The boost in enrollment this month marks the highest number of newly certified patients in a single month since the program began in July 2015. The number of doctors who can certify patients also went up in July, from 605 to 625.

Dr. Tom Arneson, research manager in the Office of Medical Cannabis, told MPR News the numbers are "substantial" but expected – chronic pain patients typically make up 80 or 90 percent of medical cannabis users in other states, he said.

The publication notes Minnesota's program may not grow to be as big as it is in other states due to its tight restrictions on qualifying conditions, how much it costs patients, and how reluctant doctors are to prescribe it.

Despite the jump in enrollment, the number of certified patients is still below the 5,000 patients officials projected prior to the start of the program, MPR News adds.

For more information on the state's medical cannabis program, check out this July 15 update from the Department of Health. (Data doesn't include patients with chronic pain, because they haven't yet been able to purchase medical marijuana.)

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