The head of one of Minnesota's two medical marijuana companies has resigned.

LeafLine Labs announced Friday that CEO Manny Munson-Regala has stepped down less than a year after he took the job. Munson-Regala, a former assistant state health commissioner, helped set up the state's medical cannabis program, then left last June to take a job running one of the newly created companies.

In a statement late Friday, LeafLine announced that Dr. Andrew Bachman, an emergency physician and one of the company's founders, has been appointed as interim CEO by the company board.

Minnesota legalized medical marijuana last July, but the program has struggled with low enrollment and rising prices in its opening months. LeafLine — one of two multimillion-dollar companies selected by the Health Department to grow, refine and sell all of Minnesota's legal marijuana — was founded in part by members of the Bachman family, although the cannabis business is separate from the garden centers that the company also operates.

"As rewarding and as fulfilling as the job was, the time commitment and sacrifice to family and friends was becoming exhausting," Munson-Regala said Friday. "So when an opportunity for a founder, willing to step up and take an operational role, occurred, it seemed like a good chance for a transition."

LeafLine's announcement did not explain the reason for the management shake-up.

The Cottage Grove-based company said Munson-Regala would continue as an adviser during the transition.

"We want to thank Manny for his tireless work in helping us establish LeafLine as the leader others in the industry hope to emulate," LeafLine Board Chairman Peter Bachman said in a statement. "As we enter the next phase of our growth, Andrew Bachman, as one of the original founders and a doctor, is uniquely qualified to help us serve our growing number of patients."

As of Friday, the Health Department's Office of Medical Cannabis had approved 996 patients to legally purchase cannabis oils, pills and liquids. Minnesota's program, one of the most tightly regulated in the nation, limits marijuana sales to patients with one of nine serious illnesses — including cancer, epilepsy and some terminal illnesses — and only allows nonsmokable forms of the drug.

LeafLine operates a clinic in Eagan and plans to open three more in St. Cloud, St. Paul and Hibbing by this summer. The state's other medical marijuana company, Minnesota Medical Solutions, operates clinics in Minneapolis and Rochester and plans to open two more in Moorhead and Eden Prairie by this summer.

Jennifer Brooks • 612-673-4008