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Thousands More Doctors Than Patients In Minnesota Medical Marijuana Program

Jacob Redmond

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There are thousands more doctors than patients in Minnesota's medical marijuana program.

One month into legalization, only 250 people have managed to enroll in the new program. But 3,134 health care practitioners have registered with the Office of Medical Cannabis.

Those health care workers are ready to certify patients to take medical marijuana. But first, the patients are going to have to find them. That hasn't been easy.

"Guess banging my head against the wall will not move the wall," said Duane Bandel, who has AIDS - one of the conditions the law says entitles him to try medical cannabis - but has been unable to get his doctors to fill out the paperwork for the state.

Minnesota law gives physicians and clinics the option of opting out and unless patients can find a primary caregiver to confirm that they have a qualifying condition, they cannot enroll in the program. Bandel said his clinic, which has been treating him since his diagnosis in 2002, is not currently certifying patients, although it may reconsider that decision sometime next year.

"Too bad I spent all that time trying to get this law to work for all Minnesotans, since it isn't working for me," said a frustrated Bandel, who not only lobbied hard for medical cannabis legalization, but also sits on the state's Task Force on Medical Cannabis Therapeutic Research.

As of Friday morning, the Health Department's Office of Medical Cannabis reports that there are 250 patients enrolled in the program, out of 475 who have been certified by their practitioner to participate. Beyond the 3,134 participating health care workers, another 349 have begun the registration process with the state.

The state's first two medical marijuana clinics opened in Minneapolis and Eagan on July 1. Since then, a second clinic opened in Rochester and a fourth is set to open in Moorhead. In all, there will be eight locations where patients can purchase medical cannabis, scattered across the state.

Minnesota's medical marijuana program is one of the most restrictive in the nation. By law, cannabis is available only to patients with a handful of serious medical conditions and can be sold only as pills or liquids, not in its smokable plant form.

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News Moderator: Jacob Redmond 420 MAGAZINE ®
Full Article: Thousands more doctors than patients in Minn. marijuana program - StarTribune.com
Author: Jennifer Brooks
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Photo Credit: The Associated Press
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