Minnesota legalized cannabis in May 2014. The state’s medical marijuana program is run by the Minnesota Department of Health. However, the land of 10,000 lakes has some of the most restrictive medical cannabis laws in the country. Read on to find out how to get medical marijuana in Minnesota.
Qualifying Medical Conditions
Patients with one of the following debilitating medical conditions may be eligible to participate in Minnesota’s medical marijuana program:
- Tourette Syndrome
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy
- Severe and persistent muscle spasm, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease, including Crohn’s disease
- Terminal illness with a probable life expectancy of less than one year
- Intractable pain
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea
- Alzheimer’s Disease
Scheduling an Appointment with Your Doctor
The first thing patients need to do is get certification from a doctor, physician assistant, or advanced practice registered nurse licensed in Minnesota. The state doesn’t keep a registry of medical marijuana doctors making entry into the program tricky for patients to navigate. Health care providers are not required to certify medical weed. A very small fraction of them are responsible for certifying the 21,000 active medical marijuana patients. Be advised that Minnesota health care providers will be especially cautious about recommending cannabis to infants and children, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and those with a personal or family history of psychosis. Once you schedule an appointment with a doctor for a medical cannabis consult, visit the Department of Health’s Medical Cannabis website. Select the Medical Cannabis Print Materials and Forms link. Scroll down to the forms section and select the Patient Email and Acknowledgement form. Print it out, complete it, and bring it with you to your appointment. During the appointment, the healthcare practitioner will review your medical history, conduct a full medical assessment, and confirm the diagnosis of a qualifying medical condition. Be sure to ask your practitioner to give you a summary of the visit and a list of your current prescriptions. You will need these documents when you go to pick up your medical marijuana at a licensed dispensary. Once your physician certifies you, you will receive an email from the Minnesota Department of Health Medical Marijuana Program containing certification and a registration link for the Medical Cannabis Patient Registry.
Patients who receive a link to the Medical Cannabis Patient Registry can begin the process of enrolling in Minnesota’s medical marijuana program. Have the following materials ready for registration:
- A government-issued ID (passport, driver’s license, military ID, state ID).
- Government medical assistance ID (CHAMPVA, Medicaid, MinnesotaCare, Social Security Disability, Supplemental Security Income).
- Scanner for uploading images of your IDs. Most phones have this capacity.
- Card or check for annual registration fee.
It can take up to 30 days for the Minnesota Department of Health to review and accept an application. You will receive an email notifying you of approval.
A caregiver is designated by the patient to help obtain and deliver medical marijuana. Parents, legal guardians, and spouses may register as such when the patient receives certification from their healthcare practitioner. They do not need to go through the caregiver approval process. An adult who is not the parent, legal guardian, or spouse of a patient may be approved as a designated caregiver by following these steps:
- First, the patient must add the caregiver to their account. An email will be sent to the caregiver containing instructions for the caregiver application.
- The caregiver completes the enrollment process online using the link provide by the Office of Medical Cannabis.
- The caregiver prints, fills out, and sends the background check sent in in the application email. The caregiver is required to pay a $15 fee for the background check.
Designated caregivers may not have a conviction for a felony offense unless the commissioner determines that the conviction was for the medical use of cannabis or assisting with the medical use of cannabis. It can take up to 30 days for the caregiver application to be approved. Upon approval, the Office of Medical Cannabis will send an email notifying the patient and caregiver that they are authorized to pick up and deliver medical marijuana.
Minnesota’s medical marijuana program requires patients to pay an annual registration fee of $200. Patients who receive CHAMPVA, SSD, SSI, or who are enrolled in Medicaid or MinnesotaCare programs may have the registration fee reduced to $50. Caregivers are responsible for paying the $15 fee for the background checks they submit as a part of their application.
Purchasing Medical Cannabis
The person picking up cannabis—be it the patient or their caregiver—must complete and submit a Patient Self-Evaluation Form before heading to a licensed Cannabis Patient Center. This form can be accessed from the Medical Cannabis Patient Registry. Patients and caregivers are required to complete and submit a Patient Self-Evaluation form each time they pick up their medicine. Cannabis can be purchased from one of the eight Cannabis Patient Centers. They are located in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Eagan, Bloomington, Rochester, St. Cloud and Hibbing.
The only forms of cannabis available for consumption are pills, liquids, and oils. Cannabis flower is illegal. Consumption of cannabis is limited to a private residence. Minnesota’s medical cannabis law prohibits the consumption or possession of cannabis in any of the following locations:
- On a school bus or van.
- On the grounds of any school.
- In a correctional facility.
- On the grounds of any childcare facility.
- On any form of public transportation.
- Where the vapor would be inhaled by a nonpatient minor.
- In any public place including indoor or outdoor areas open to the general public.
Driving Under the Influence
It may be medicine, but Minnesota’s law prohibits any form of driving under the influence of medical marijuana. It is illegal for patients to operate, navigate, or be in physical control of any motor vehicle, aircraft, train, motorboat, or working on transportation equipment, property, facilities while under the influence of medical cannabis.
Growing Cannabis at Home
Medical patients cannot grow their own cannabis at home. Cannabis flower is illegal. The only legal way to access cannabis medicine is to purchase it from a licensed Cannabis Patient Center.