Update – 5/13 @ 4:20 p.m. – The bill that this amendment was attached to (S.F. 3560) has been “Laid on the Table”, killing the possibility of this amendment becoming law. We won’t speculate on the motive, but @ramp_mn on twitter will!
Yesterday Minnesota State Representative Paul Garofalo (R-58B) offered an amendment to S.F. 3560, the Omnibus Health and Human Services policy bill, intended to legalize raw cannabis flower for patients of the state’s medical cannabis program. State legislators are expected to vote on this amendment (and the omnibus bill itself) during the full house floor session on Wednesday, May 13. This amendment addresses concerns that patients in Minnesota have had since the program’s inception back in 2014. Of the 33 states with medical cannabis programs, Minnesota is one of three states that does not allow raw cannabis flower.
The amendment would have rescheduled raw cannabis to a schedule two narcotic (similar to opioids or methamphetamines), along with allowing the states two medical opportators to prescribe and sell to patients. All medical cannabis in Minnesota is currently extracted from cannabis plants grown in Minnesota, so it would not affect how MinnMed and Leafline could grow the cannabis plants themselves.
This amendment follows a request from the state’s two medical cannabis programs back in December to allow smokable medical cannabis. The executives of these two businesses argue that this move would allow prices to fall while patients could experience more benefits. As the StarTribune reported, Dr. Kyle Kingsley (founder of Minnesota Medical Solutions) says that “[Allowing raw flower] is the single greatest step that can be taken to bring prices down for patients. The addition of flower will save the Minnesota program.”
This move would not just be supported by the two state operators, but also by most research being conducted on cannabis. The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) has a resource detailing the importance of whole plant cannabis. “Dozens of studies demonstrate the medical benefits of whole plant, flower cannabis in its natural form.” Along with that, raw cannabis flower allows patients to better control their dosage, keep costs low, and provide access to the more than 480 natural components in cannabis flower.
This amendment is best summed up by Sensible Change Minnesota (@sensichangemn), who tweeted that “This provision would make it easy to dose and easy for LE to identify. Addressing the concerns raised, offering a compromise to a blanket allowance for raw cannabis. The time is now to put #patientsfirst.”
We should know more by the time the house adjourns on Wednesday. In the meantime, the full text of the amendment can be found here: https://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/amend/S3560A5.htm