Interview with Scott Smith

Sam Goldman: It was important to legalize MMJ in Minnesota because ____

Scott Smith: Legislation passed during the 2014 Minnesota legislative session created a new process to permit seriously ill Minnesotans to use medical cannabis to treat certain medical conditions and for the state program to learn from our patients’ experiences with medical cannabis.

Sam: The Office of Medical Cannabis was formed in 2014. Can you please briefly describe their role in the program?

Scott: The Office of Medical Cannabis, located at the Minnesota Department of Health, was formed in 2014 to implement the new medical cannabis legislation. The office operates the patient registry system and oversees Minnesota’s medical cannabis program including regulating the state’s medical cannabis manufacturers to ensure patient safety.

Sam: The steps to join the MN MMJ program are?

Scott: Patients must be certified by a qualified clinician as having one of the qualifying medical conditions. They then must register and pay a registration fee that is established by the legislature.

Sam:  How many patients are enrolled in the MMJ program?

Scott: The most current information is at this website.

http://www.health.state.mn.us/topics/cannabis/about/stats.html

Sam: Why is the list of doctors willing to recommend MMJ private?

Scott: The Legislation did not direct MDH to create such a list and MDH does not maintain such a list. Lawmakers wrote the law so that medical cannabis use would occur within the context of an ongoing relationship with a clinician who is treating the patient’s underlying condition causing the need for the medication.  A list would be antithetical to this goal so the law did not give MDH the authority to create and maintain such a list.

There is nothing in the law that stops members of the public or physicians from creating such lists.

Sam: Only two companies are allowed to sell MMJ. Will other companies be added to the list? If not, why not?

Scott: The law currently limits the program to two manufacturers. There would need to be additional legislation to change the number of manufacturers.

Sam: Many Minnesotans are unable to afford MMJ. When will the prices resemble the prices of MMJ in other states?

Scott: The Office of Medical Cannabis does not have authority to regulate the price of medical cannabis in the state.

Sam: Currently joints, bongs, and editable are illegal. Will the program always impose these restrictions?

Scott: Such a change would require Legislative action.

Sam: Employed patients and job seekers have what legal rights?

Scott: The law includes some protections for registered patients and job seekers.

Sam: In 5 years the MN MMJ program will be?

Scott: Not our role to speculate.

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