Minnesota’s first medical marijuana dispensaries are underway, with several locations planned throughout the state, as growers harvest the state’s first legal cannabis crops over the next few weeks. The first state-licensed dispensary is expected to open in Minneapolis as early as July, according to Minnesota Public Radio.
“We found three sites, and we’re in the final stages of negotiating one of them,” Kyle Kingsley, CEO of Minnesota Medical Solutions, one of two manufacturers that got approval from the state Department of Health to grow, process and sell medical marijuana beginning July 1, told InForum. “We fully expect it’s going to be an operation that will be like other commercial medical operations.”
The state Legislature passed a bill legalizing medical marijuana for some patients in May 2014. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton signed the bill into law in June.
Minnesota joined 22 other states in legalizing medical cannabis. However, marijuana advocates criticized the law for being among the country’s most restrictive. Unlike most states that allow medical marijuana, Minnesota won’t permit qualifying patients to smoke the plant. The law allows marijuana to be consumed only in pill, oil or vapor form, similar to how an e-cigarette works. The law also restricts the use of marijuana products to patients suffering from a handful of serious medical conditions, including cancer, HIV/AIDS, seizures and glaucoma.
“Many seriously ill Minnesotans and their families have been waiting a long time to reach this point,” Heather Azzi, political director for Minnesotans for Compassionate Care, said at a news conference last year. “The new law holds promise for many seriously ill Minnesotans, but it also leaves many behind.”
Minneapolis’ first dispensary will be housed downtown in a historic, 100-year-old building that was once the location of a Catholic women’s organization. The other licensed manufacturer, LeafLine, is slated to open its first site in Eagan, about 15 miles south of Minneapolis, on July 1.