“New patients are leaving the program in droves, turning to the black market or prescription opioids because they cannot afford the processed pills and oils that are legal. Growers are losing millions because of a strict tax structure written into the law.
Lawmakers can fix this, but they might have to look beyond their home state for solutions. A slew of proposals at the State Capitol could save the manufacturers money and help them lower prices. Patients say they do not go far enough.
Minnesota’s medical cannabis program is widely seen as one of the most restrictive in the country; the costly drugs are not insured and only patients with one of 13 severe conditions can use them.
Is there a commitment to shed that reputation?
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz told the Pioneer Press that he would support legislative changes to the program, which he said is “very cumbersome” and “doesn’t work.”
“It felt like they did the bare minimum they could do just to kind of limp over,” Walz said, referring to the compromise that lawmakers and former Gov. Mark Dayton struck to legalize medical marijuana in 2014. “Now we’re stuck with a very minimal medicinal cannabis (program) that really is too expensive.”
The average patient shelled out $300 when he or she went to a dispensary, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health. In contrast, most patients who spoke to the Pioneer Press say they spend between $200 and $500 per month.
In August, Pennsylvania officials made a major change to the program. They legalized the marijuana plant for medicinal use, and prices began to drop. By Feb. 1, the average cost per patient on a trip to a dispensary had fallen to $130.
Read more at Twin Cities