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Minnesota will feature one of the tightest distribution systems nationwide, allowing only two manufacturers and eight dispensaries statewide. Arizona, which approved medical marijuana by voter initiative in 2010, had 71 dispensaries by late 2013. The Illinois General Assembly last summer passed a law authorizing 60 dispensaries. Nevada’s Legislature approved up to 66 dispensaries last year and New Mexico has 23 distribution sites.
Minnesota will also allow fewer eligible conditions than most other states: Cancer with certain symptoms; glaucoma; HIV/AIDS; Tourette’s syndrome; Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease); seizure-inducing epilepsy; severe and persistent muscle spasms including those brought on by multiple sclerosis or muscular dystrophy; Crohn’s disease, and terminal illness with a life expectancy of less than a year or which causes severe pain, nausea, severe vomiting or wasting.
Advocates had pushed for a more expansive Minnesota law that would have permitted plant marijuana, a wider distribution system and more eligible conditions. But Dayton insisted on a bill that was not opposed by law enforcement and the medical community. Law enforcement in particular opposed legal plant possession and smoking.
Sisley, the marijuana researcher at the University of Arizona, said she hopes Minnesota’s program works. She said she would advise state health officials, as they build the program, to involve top researchers from around the country.
Miller said that while she doesn’t intend to enroll initially, she will be watching closely as Minnesota’s program rolls out.
“I do want there to be a workable law here,” Miller said. “I think it’s a matter of waiting and watching to see if people who do enroll will get access and find relief.”
Patrick Condon • 651-925-5049