Minnesota health department expands medical cannabis program

The Minnesota Department of Health, Wednesday, approved the use of edibles in its medical cannabis program.

Starting in August 2022, patients registered in the medical cannabis program will have the option of using gummies — or chews — as a delivery option.

Patrick McClellan is one of those patients who told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS he will benefit from the new choice.

"I will definitely use the edibles and there will be many others who will also choose that option," said McClellan. "There are a lot of patients that need different delivery methods because there are a lot of patients that don’t prefer vaporizing or taking a pill."

LeafLine Labs, based in Eagan, is one of two companies that supply products to the state’s medical cannabis program. Company President Bill Baker told KSTP this will help improve the program for patients and expand the number of people who will register in the future.

"We have patients who may have swallowing issues and they cannot take a tablet or capsule," said Baker. "They might [have] sensitivities to certain carrier oils, like MCT, and so they cannot use certain solutions and so this would be an option for them to minimize a lot of the additives that are in the product."

MDH did not approve anxiety or panic disorder as a medical condition that qualifies for the program and Chris Tholkes, the head of the MDH medical cannabis program, said that decision came after a lengthy discussion with healthcare providers across the state.

"Some studies are showing that, yes, there is some therapeutic benefit for some with anxieties," said Tholkes. "But, there are some other studies that show it actually makes anxiety worse and so a lot of medical providers resoundingly asked us to not approve anxiety disorder."

MDH said there are close to 30,000 people registered in the state’s medical cannabis program.