Update: At roughly 12:00 pm (noon) on Sunday, May 17 the Senate tabled the bill (SF 3560) through a voice vote. A majority vote is required to take the bill off of the table. While this doesn’t necessarily mean the measure is dead, it does not bode well for those supporting the change.
The Minnesota House voted on Saturday in favor of a piece of legislation that will reform state cannabis laws in Minnesota. The proposal, which passed as the language of part of SF 3560 (health care omnibus bill) both add cannabis flower to the medical program and reschedules cannabis as a Schedule II drug (instead of its present status as Schedule I). All amendments were introduced by State Representative Paul Garofalo (R-58B) who also introduced the amendments earlier in the week which were tabled before any discussion could be had.
The vote on the amendment to allow raw flower and reschedule passed 81-53. The bill itself passed 80-54.
Medical flower provided until this provision “must be packaged in opaque packaging and in individual doses”. The only other state that operates under this model is Utah. Advocates of the measure say that this will make it easier to differentiate between cannabis from the illegal legacy market and cannabis purchased from either of the states medical cannabis producers. Patients must also be 21 or older to obtain raw flower as medicine, so patients under 21 need to stick to the medications currently offered.
The addition of raw cannabis flower to the medical program is a long asked for change by cannabis advocates in Minnesota. Organizations such as Sensible Change Minnesota have advocated for this reform, among others. Minnesota Medical Solutions, one of the two state-approved operators, launched an advocacy initiative asking the state to allow patients to vaporize raw cannabis flower. The change today marks a major step forward for both the legal industry and medical patients alike.
Schedule II is reserved for drugs that have limited medical applications but also a high risk for abuse. This includes drugs such as opium (commonly known as hydrocodone/oxycodone) and cocaine. This measure passing is not just a change to the medical program but also an acknowledgment of the medical usage of cannabis. Patients with qualifying conditions such as intractable pain and PTSD often experience more relief from raw cannabis flower due to the entourage effect.
The amended bill now moves onto the Senate where it will either be approved or a conference committee will be established before the end of the session in just a few days. Rep. Winkler said on the House floor that the Senate “agrees with [this proposal]” so odds are hopeful that the change will be adopted. We will continue to provide updates on the status of both of these changes.