ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Patients hoping to access medical marijuana may struggle to register for the medicine as doctors and hospitals shy away from the new program.
Registration opens Monday and patients are expected to start getting the medicine in July. The law passed last year requires a physician to certify a patient has one of nine qualifying conditions.
St. Paul resident Sarah Wellington says her neurologist was on board to try medical marijuana for her multiple sclerosis. But her clinic told her last week they won't sign off for now.
Dr. Dave Thorson of the Minnesota Medical Association says many doctors and hospital systems are unsure about medical marijuana's effects and nervous about violating federal law. He says some facilities may wait to gauge the program's rollout before giving their patients the OK.
During the final days of the 2015 regular legislative session, state lawmakers amended Minnesota’s medical cannabis statute to address patients’ use of medical cannabis in hospitals and other health care facilities.
The amendment extends protections and immunities to employees of health care facilities to possess medical cannabis while carrying out their employment duties. These protections include providing care or distributing medical cannabis to a patient on the Minnesota medical cannabis patient registry who is actively receiving treatment or care at the facility.
The amendment also allows health care facilities to reasonably restrict the use of medical cannabis by patients. For example, the facility may choose not store or maintain a patient's supply of medical cannabis or that use of medical cannabis may be limited to a specific location.
With certification and registration beginning Monday, June 1, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has added informational resources on the Medical Cannabis website
to help Minnesota patients better understand their options under the state’s new medical cannabis program.