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Cannabis News Flash: Minnesota Approves Flower for MMJ Patients

While it’s not the full-on adult-use bill many activists were hoping for, there’s welcome news for medical cannabis patients in Minnesota. Flower—or what many know as bud—will finally be available for sale at licensed dispensaries.

What does the change herald exactly, and when will Minnesota cannabis patients be allowed to purchase flower? We’ll share everything we know about this exciting development.

Minnesota Flower News: Recognizing the High Price of Cannabis Products

Minnesota flower

Although the Land of 10,000 Lakes approved the sale of medical cannabis back in 2014, until now there was one very important form of the plant that couldn’t be found in the state of Minnesota: flower. Not legally, at least. As medical cannabis activist Patrick McClellan recently told Minnesota Public Radio: “Most people like me, who are on disability, were forced then to purchase…products that have been smuggled in from other states that we purchase on the street.”

Advocates such as McClellan have largely framed the issue in economic terms. Describing medical cannabis in Minnesota as “basically a designer drug for the rich,” he noted that many MMJ patients are unable to pay the high prices associated with the cannabis products the state actually permits, including liquid tinctures, tablets, and vape-able oils. Data from the state’s Department of Health back up this assertion; in 2019, Minnesota cannabis patients spent on average some $316 a month on cannabis products.

In large part, the high prices associated with such products comes down to the cost of processing raw cannabis flower into high-tech concentrates and other highly specialized formats. Speaking after the passage of the new cannabis reform bill on May 18th, 2021, Minnesota DFL House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler said:

“It should be substantially cheaper for patients to access medical cannabis as a result of the bill that we passed, and it’s a significant accomplishment in the movement, not only towards legalization, but for patients to be able to access cannabis for health reasons.”

Minnesota Flower News: A Torturous Road to Reform

Minnesota flower

Minnesota isn’t the only state to have banned flower from the list of approved cannabis medicines. Until recently, the state of New York prohibited the sale of flower in its medical dispensaries. Of course, given that Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the passage of an adult-use billearlier this year, it’s something of a moot point.

What’s behind the change for Minnesota flower enthusiasts? Call it a story of deja vu. Back in May of 2020, the state’s House of Representatives had passed a cannabis reform bill that included provisions for “whole-plant cannabis,” only to see it torpedoed by Republican lawmakers in the Senate. While the cannabis reform package was folded into a larger omnibus bill, it became clear over the course of the pre-vote wrangling that it was specifically the loosening of cannabis restrictions that had triggered the pushback from Republican lawmakers.

This year saw an eerie reenactment. While house lawmakers actually managed to pass an adult-use bill, advocates’ high hopes were dashed when the legislation reached the Senate, where Majority Leader Paul Gazelka quipped the bill was “up in smoke.”

But even if full legalization was D.O.A., this time around, Senate lawmakers found common ground in the notion that a Minnesota flower provision would bring relief to current MMJ patients, rather than being a side door to de facto adult use. Quoted in Minnesota Public Radio, Republican state Sen. Michelle Benson, the chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, stressed that the change is about helping the state’s patients rather than “a path to legalization.”

Minnesota flower

When can Minnesotans expect to see flower joining the other products on medical dispensary menus? Governor Tim Walz signed the reform bill into law a week after its initial passage. Pending the ramping up of testing facilities capable of assessing whole-plant cannabis, the measure will go into effect on March 1, 2022, at the very latest.

Here at Green Goods, we’ve got our fingers crossed for an earlier start date. We’re incredibly excited to be able to source this simplest and most primal form of our favorite plant medicine, and we can’t wait to start sharing it with you, too.