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Minnesota Medical Cannabis Program: A Guide for Patients

Learn more about Minnesota’s Medical Cannabis Program

Get to know the program

  • If you qualify to be a patient in the Minnesota Medical Cannabis Program
  • What steps you must take to participate:
    • Certify
    • Register
    • Receive

    Do I qualify for the program?

    If you are a Minnesota resident who suffers from at least one of the following conditions that has been certified by a health care practitioner who is registered with the program, you may be eligible:

    • Cancer*
    • Glaucoma
    • HIV/AIDS
    • Tourette syndrome
    • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
    • Inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease
    • Seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy
    • Severe and persistent muscle spasm, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis (MS)
    • Terminal illness with a probable life expectancy of less than one year*
    • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
    • Autism spectrum disorder (must meet DSM-5)
    • Chronic pain
    • Sickle cell disease
    • Chronic motor or vocal tic disorder

    * If your illness or its treatment produces one or more of the following: severe or chronic pain; nausea or severe vomiting; or cachexia or severe wasting.

    Certify

    Before you may register for the program, a doctor, physician assistant or advanced practice registered nurse must first certify your condition.

    • Schedule an appointment with your doctor, physician assistant or advanced practice registered nurse. These are the only health care practitioners authorized to certify your condition.
    • Keep in mind: The OMC does not maintain a list of participating health care practitioners. It is your responsibility to meet with a qualified health care practitioner.
    • Download and print the Patient Email and Acknowledgement Form (PDF).

    On the Patient Email and Acknowledgement Form you’ll need to:

    • Write in the email address you’d like to use to receive private messages about your health. If you do not already have a non-employer based email address, consider setting up a new personal email account before your appointment.
    • Bring this form along with you to your appointment and give it to your health care practitioner.
    • During your visit, ask your practitioner for an appointment summary and a list of the medications that are currently prescribed to you. Take these documents with you when you go pick up your medical cannabis.

    After you meet with your health care practitioner, you’ll receive an email from the OMC that will contain:

    • Confirmation of your condition by your health care practitioner.
    • Your unique registration link for the Medical Cannabis Patient Registry.

    Register

    Once you receive your certification email, you will be ready to register. Before you click on the registration link, gather your:

    • Government-issued ID: state ID, driver’s license or passport.
    • If applying for the discounted fee, you will need to show proof of receiving Supplemental Security Income, Social Security Disability (including those transitioned to retirement benefits), medical assistance, MinnesotaCare, IHS, Railroad disability, VA dependency and indemnity compensation, or Veteran’s disability benefits.
    • Camera or a camera-equipped mobile phone to capture/scan images of your IDs.
    • Credit/debit card or check — the program’s payment processor, U.S. Bank, accepts all of the above methods of payment for the annual registration fee.

    When your account has been approved, you’ll be notified by email. Then you may move on to the last part of the process — Step 3: Receive.

    Receive

    Congratulations! You are now officially registered with the program.

    To purchase medical cannabis, you will need to complete a Patient Self-Evaluation on your Registry account. If you are under 18 or have a caregiver, the person who is authorized to pick up your medical cannabis will need to fill out this form.

    To access the form:

    • Log in to your account on the Medical Cannabis Patient Registry.
    • Submit a new Patient Self-Evaluation each time you request medical cannabis.

    When you visit a Medical Cannabis Dispensary, be sure to bring along your appointment summary and the list of medications currently prescribed to you that you received at your health care practitioner visit.

    At the Medical Cannabis Dispensary you’ll meet with the onsite licensed pharmacist who will:

    • Review your self-evaluation report, practitioner appointment summary and the list of your currently prescribed medications.
    • Provide a medical cannabis dosage recommendation customized for you.

    Where are the Medical Cannabis Dispensaries?

    Before visiting a Medical Cannabis Dispensary, please call to verify the hours of operation.

    How much does medical cannabis cost?

    At this time, insurance companies do not cover medical cannabis. Consequently, all patients who participate in the program are responsible for these costs:

    Annual Registration Fee

    • Full fee is $200.
    • Reduced fee is $50.
      Patients who receive Supplemental Security Income, Social Security Disability (including those transitioned to retirement benefits), medical assistance, MinnesotaCare, IHS, Railroad disability, VA dependency and indemnity compensation, or Veteran’s disability benefits are eligible for the reduced fee. You must provide evidence. See the How to Register in the Medical Cannabis Program (PDF) for details on required proof that you will need to submit.

    Cannabis Product Fee

    This fee is paid directly to the manufacturers that operate the Medical Cannabis Dispensary each time you, your parent/legal guardian or registered caregiver return to purchase medical cannabis. The amount of this fee may vary based on the type and amount of medical cannabis purchased.

    Where can I learn more?

    If you have additional questions, please call the Office of Medical Cannabis or send an email to: [email protected]

    Spotlight

    Contact Us

    Questions? Call us Monday through Friday 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at 651-201-5598 or toll-free at 844-879-3381 or email [email protected]

    651-201-5000 Phone
    888-345-0823 Toll-free

    Information on this website is available in alternative formats upon request.

    What is Medical Marijuana?

    Marijuana is the dried buds of the Cannabis sativa plant. Within these buds, there are two compounds called cannabinoids that have been shown to have an effect on the body: delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (often referred to as THC), and cannabidiol (CBD). Medical marijuana is the use of cannabis to treat the symptoms of certain diseases, including the side effects of cancer.

    Medical Marijuana and Cancer: How might cannabis help a colorectal cancer patient?

    The use of medical marijuana has been shown to help ease some of the side effects that result from a cancer diagnosis and cancer treatment.

    THC has been known to reduce pain and nausea, whereas CBD has been shown to treat anxiety. For cancer patients, there have been a number of small studies that support the use of medical marijuana to treat symptoms such as pain, nausea, decreased appetite, neuropathy, and for reducing stress and anxiety. It’s important to note that the sole use of marijuana to treat and cure cancer has not been proven and is not recommended.

    How do you take medical marijuana for cancer?

    • Inhalation: smoking or vaporization
    • Ingestion: eating foods that are cooked with cannabis
    • Topical: using infused oils or lotions

    Are there side effects?

    Just like any other treatment, there are side effects to the use of cannabis.

    The most common effect is the “high” that cannabis is known for. This sensation could cause paranoia and anxiety for some people.

    In addition, at this time, growing cannabis is not strictly regulated. Therefore it is hard to know what strain (or specific type) of cannabis a person is getting – and different strains have slightly different effects. For example, certain strains aid sleep and relaxation while other strains can make you more alert. This means a person could react differently each time they pick up a new prescription if they are unknowingly purchasing a different strain.

    Another negative side effect comes from smoking cannabis, which increases the risk of harm to the lungs.

    Where are we now with cannabis legalization?

    Currently, cannabis legalization is as follows:

    • Medical marijuana is legal in 33 U.S. states and the District of Columbia
    • Cannabis is allowed for recreational use in 10 states
    • Cannabis use is decriminalized in 13 states plus the U.S. Virgin Islands

    What if I don’t have access based on my state?

    There are two pharmaceutical drugs that are similar to medical marijuana and are approved in the United States for treating nausea and vomiting: Dronabinol (Marinol ®) and Nabilone (Cesamet ®).

    Dronabinal is FDA-approved for the treatment of nausea in patients undergoing chemotherapy. It is a synthetic form of THC and is taken by mouth as an oral capsule. Nabilone is also used to treat severe nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy, and similar to dronabinol, it is a man-made, synthetic form of cannabis.

    While oftentimes medical marijuana (made from a plant) has a negative stigma, these medical prescriptions (made in the lab) don’t, although they are chemically the same. Regardless, both deliver the cannabinoids that relieve the side effects of many cancer patients.

    What about the stigma?

    Many people feel a stigma around marijuana and cancer. This could be due to the federal regulations, cultural norms or personal perspective. But many colorectal cancer survivors have successfully used medical marijuana in their cancer journey:

    “I never thought that I would be one to look to alternative therapies to manage my disease. But after 6 years of fighting this awful disease and learning more and more about different alternative treatment options to help me alongside traditional medicine, I’ve learned to be open to anything that will help my body heal.”

    – Melissa Bhar, Colorectal Cancer Fighter

    “Medicinal marijuana was never offered however, my oncologist was extremely supportive once I brought it up. We had to abide by the state laws (Hawaii) and he provided every referral I needed to get my RX filled. Medical marijuana helped me with everything. I was able to keep my food down, my appetite was consistent and nausea was almost eliminated. I’m 2 years post ileostomy takedown, and I don’t have any cravings or drawbacks from medicinal marijuana. I wish I would’ve started using medical marijuana from chemo treatment #1”

    – Kenny Toye, Stage III survivor, Fight CRC Ambassador

    “When dealing with cancer you are given several medications to deal with nausea and pain. For me, the multiple prescriptions became overwhelming, each having their own side effects. Cannabis turned out to be a great alternative. It comes in many forms for consumption and provides quick relief. Thankfully, I have not experienced any opposition when discussing alternative medicine with my medical team, and I felt supported in my decision to try cannabis to ease some of my side effects”.

    – Yasmeem Watson, Stage III survivor, Fight CRC Research Advocate

    More resources on medical marijuana and cancer

    Need more information on medical marijuana and cancer? Listen in to Fight CRC’s Taboo-ty Podcast: Medical Marijuana! As more and more states are developing medical marijuana programs, Dr. Tim Byers answers the questions that many patients and caregivers need to know.

    The information and services provided by Fight Colorectal Cancer are for general informational purposes only. The information and services are purely educational and are not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is important to note that medical cannabis products may expose you to chemicals known to cause cancer and/or reproductive harm, therefore it is important to speak with your doctor before making any treatment decisions. Cannabis is currently listed as a Schedule I controlled substance pursuant to the federal Controlled Substances Act. Consequently, possession, distribution, cultivation, and manufacture of cannabis are illegal under federal law. State regulations regarding the medical use, possession and sale of cannabis differs by state. It is your responsibility to be aware of, and abide by, all laws and regulations.

    Fight Colorectal Cancer only provides educational services and never recommends or endorses any specific physicians, products or treatments for any condition.