Pubdate: Wed, 15 Jul 2015
Source: Minneapolis Star-Tribune (MN)
Copyright: 2015 Star Tribune
Author: Rochelle Olson


State Officials Expect Enrollment to Keep Growing; 276 Patients Are 
Already Certified.

Minnesota's nascent medical marijuana program saw its greatest weekly 
jump in participants with growth of 50 percent in the first full week of July.

As of Friday, 147 patients had paid their fees, completed their 
paperwork and were eligible to participate in the program. That was 
up from the 98 patients approved at the end of the month-long 
enrollment leading up to the July 1 legalization date.

A total of 276 patients have now been certified by a health care 
practitioner to participate in the program, up from the 192 for the 
entire month of June, according to the state Department of Health. 
"Last week was probably the largest jump we've seen for patient 
enrollment," said Michelle Larson, director of the state Office of 
Medical Cannabis.

In the lead-up to legalization, the state and two companies spent 
millions on the launch. Patient enrollment was projected to to ramp 
up rather than spike quickly. Minnesota's regulation remains 
relatively restrictive compared to other states. State rules allow 
cannabis to be sold only in pill or liquid form to patients with one 
or more of nine serious illnesses. Smokable marijuana is not allowed 
under the program. Patients must be certified by a health care 
provider to participate.

"We continue to expect the numbers to build over time as people get 
familiar with the program," Larson said.

Interest from health care practitioners continues to increase, but 
there's no prediction from Larson on how the rate of enrollment will proceed.

"I don't have any control over what patients and health care 
practitioners will do," she said.

What is expected is continued growth as practitioners and patients 
become familiar with treatment, she said. So far, officials say the 
program's enrollment tracks expectations.

Eight dispensaries will provide the product to patients.

As of last week, 297 health care practitioners had contacted the 
Heath Department to participate in the program and 265 were 
registered and ready to certify patients up from 232 certified 
practitioners for the month of June.

The department updates enrollment numbers every Friday.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom