Minnesota enrolled its first medical marijuana patient Monday.
Sign-up for the new program got off to a relatively slow start on June 1. By the end of the day, the Office of Medical Cannabis had approved the first unidentified patient who will be able to buy the drug legally when the program launches on July 1.
According to figures released Tuesday by the Minnesota Health Department, the first day of enrollment saw 30 health care practitioners register with the state, ready to certify patients to participate in the program. In all, five patients were certified by their doctors, two completed their online registration and paid their annual fee to participate in the program, and one application was approved.
Minnesota, one of 24 states where medical cannabis has been legalized in some form, will have strict limits on how and where the drug is sold and which patients can use it.
Cannabis will be sold at just eight clinics around the state. The first two will open July 1 in Minneapolis and Eagan. It will be sold only in pill or liquid form — not as smokable plant material — and only to patients with one of nine qualifying conditions, including epilepsy, glaucoma and certain cancers.
To participate, a doctor or other health care professional must certify that a patient has one of the conditions. State law allows doctors to opt out of certifying a patient, and the Minnesota Medical Association announced Tuesday that it will survey Minnesota physicians to find out how many plan to participate in the program.
"The medical cannabis program is uncharted territory for Minnesota physicians," association president-elect Dr. Dave Thorson said in a statement. "As the state's largest physician advocacy group, we're doing our best to help doctors navigate the new law and all that it entails."
For more information about Minnesota's medical cannabis program, go to www.health.state.mn.us/ topics/cannabis.
The Office of Medical Cannabis will update its enrollment numbers next Monday.