Minnesota Patients Still Being Denied Medical Marijuana

Angela Brown is a hero. A responsible mother of three in Minnesota, she endured a year of court fees and prosecution for giving her sick 15-year-old son cannabis oil. Her home was raided and she was forced to drop the cannabis oil even though it would have become legal on July 1st, 2015. Brown faced two years imprisonment until recently accepting a plea deal. Minnesota’s fear of cannabis is still preventing patients from access to medical marijuana.

A mother will go to any length to protect the well being of her child. Brown travelled all the way to Colorado to legally purchase the cannabis oil, just before it was legalized in Minnesota. Trey Brown suffers seizures and chronic pain after a baseball accident caused traumatic brain injury. Brown says the cost of medical bills to replace the cannabis oil has already cost $8,000. She was defended free of charge by Atty. Michael Hughes. Brown eventually accepted a plea agreement in order to prevent her son Trey from being forced to testify against her.

“I was kind of looking forward to the trial,” said Hughes, whose client has become a celebrity in medical marijuana circles, most recently appearing in the documentary Pot (The Movie), which debuted at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival last weekend. “But it’s a good resolution … [The prosecution was] going to subpoena the child.”

On July 1st, 2015, Minnesota will allow patients to register under the new medical marijuana law passed last year. Unfortunately, doctors in Minnesota are reluctant to embrace the new law, leaving dying patients waiting. As of June 7, 2015, only five patients in the entire state have been able to sign up for the patient registry.

Minnesota is still miles away from the progress observed in states such as California or Colorado. For instance, a doctor’s cerification cost $200 in Minnesota as compared to about $40 for a doctor’s recommendation in California. The conditions for eligibility in Minnesota are extremely narrow compared to the conditions in California. The process for acquiring medical marijuana is much more difficult. 68% of physicians in Minnesota say they will not participate in the program. Only nine percent say they definitely plan on participating in the program.

“The concern that they don’t have enough control of the medication and the amount and dosage is frankly a curve ball to us. It came as a surprise to us that some physician groups are citing that as a reason for no participation,” Minnesota Health Department assistant commissioner Manny Munson-Regala said.

Minnesota restricts medical marijuana to only pills, tinctures, oils and vapors. Only nine illnesses qualify as a legitimate ailment. Trey Brown is one of the thousands of patients stuck in limbo until the process becomes easier.

Angela Brown says “No parent can understand it until they have to sit in their child’s bed and hold them down so they don’t hurt themselves or they have to sit beside them because they hurt so much that they can’t handle your touch.”

Quite simply, the time line for sick patients in need of medical marijuana does not align with the time line for these laws in Minnesota to be set in motion.