Statement: MRMR Supports Improving Accessibility and Affordability of Medical Cannabis in Minnesota

 

Minneapolis, MN – April 9, 2019: Minnesotans for Responsible Marijuana Regulation, a statewide campaign and coalition advocating for legalized, adult-use recreational marijuana, stands with Sensible Change MN and other organizations working for better medical marijuana access and affordability. 

 

Minnesota’s medical cannabis prices are among the highest in the country, with Minnesota patients paying up to four times more for medical cannabis products than patients in Arizona, Illinois, Oregon, and other states. In a 2016 survey by the Minnesota Department of Health, nearly 90 percent of medical cannabis patients indicated that cost was a barrier to access. Consequently, of Minnesota’s 15,500 medical cannabis patients, more than 7,000 have dropped their enrollment. The inaccessibility and unaffordability of medical cannabis products has led many Minnesota patients to purchase cannabis on the black market where products are not controlled or regulated for potency or safety.

At the same time, Minnesota’s medical cannabis program excludes from qualification thousands of patients for whom cannabis can be an effective treatment for pain in place of opioid drugs. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, over three million prescriptions were written for opioid drugs in Minnesota in 2017, resulting in 2,037 non-fatal overdoses and 422 overdose deaths. Research has shown that opioid prescriptions and opioid-related deaths have declined by 25 percent and 33 percent, respectively, in states that include pain as a qualifying condition for medical cannabis.

 

Minnesotans for Responsible Marijuana Regulation supports legislation that will improve the accessibility and affordability of medical cannabis in Minnesota including proposed legislation to:

 

  • Allow vaporization of raw cannabis as a delivery method;

  • Remove statutory limitations for cancer and terminally ill patients;

  • Add chronic pain as a qualifying condition; and

  • Add “any condition for which an opiate could otherwise be prescribed” as a qualifying condition.

We support improvements to Minnesota’s medical cannabis program because of the immediate and significant positive impacts it will have on the lives of thousands of our fellow Minnesotans. We also support these improvements because of the strong evidence that shows that states with robust medical cannabis programs are more prepared for, and supportive of, legalization for adult recreational use.

We urge MRMR supporters to attend Medical Cannabis Patients’ Day on Tuesday, April 9 from 2:30 to 4:00 at the Minnesota State Capitol Rotunda. For more information on medical cannabis reforms needed in Minnesota, please visit our friends at Sensible Change Minnesota.