Fewer than 100 patients made it into Minnesota's medical marijuana program in the first month.
Medical marijuana became legal in Minnesota on Wednesday, after a monthlong enrollment period and a yearlong rollout. As of Thursday, 192 patients had been certified to participate in the program by a doctor or other health care provider and 98 had paid their fees, completed their paperwork and were eligible to participate in the program.
State officials, and the two companies that have poured millions of dollars into launching the program, say they are not worried about the low initial sign-up numbers.
"I think it's going well," said Michelle Larson, director of the Office of Medical Cannabis, standing outside a LeafLine Labs clinic in Eagan on Wednesday; one of eight dispensaries that will open around the state over the next few weeks and months. Watching the first patients taking home their medication, starting at midnight at the Minnesota Medical Solutions clinic in Minneapolis was "exciting," she said. "If this works for people, that's our success."
Under Minnesota's rules, cannabis will only be sold in pill or liquid form, and only to patients with one of nine serious illnesses who have a health care provider willing to certify that they are eligible to participate in the program.
Larson said medical marijuana enrollment will be a like a "hockey stick, where it starts of slow and the numbers continue to rise."
As of Thursday, 265 health care practitioners had contacted the Heath Department to participate in the program and 232 were registered and ready to certify patients.