Chart: Sharp rise in Minnesota medical marijuana patients buoys businesses

By Eli McVey

The number of medical marijuana patients in Minnesota more than quadrupled in 2016, breathing life back into an industry some observers feared was unsustainable.

Chalk it up to the addition of intractable pain to the state’s list of qualifying conditions, which had an immediate and dramatic impact on patient counts.

That growth helped bolster the two vertically integrated businesses supplying Minnesota’s MMJ market, both of which had been struggling because of low patient counts.

Minnesota’s MMJ patient registry ballooned by 3,129 in 2016 to hit more than 4,000, with 82% of the growth coming after intractable pain was added in August.

Patients with intractable pain also have quickly become the largest single group of participants in the program, accounting for 46% of the total, according to the latest official report from the state that breaks down the registry by medical condition.

That report was issued in October, so the portion of patients who received MMJ cards for help with intractable pain has likely risen even more.

Minnesota’s medical marijuana program desperately needed the boost.

Weak patient counts before the addition of intractable pain cast doubts over whether the state’s two vertically integrated MMJ businesses – Leafline Labs and Minnesota Medical Solutions – could make it in the long run.

In 2015, Minnesota Medical Solutions lost $3 million, while LeafLine Labs lost $2.2 million. Fewer than 1,000 patients were participating in the program at the end of 2015.

Although intractable pain has certainly had a positive impact on Minnesota’s MMJ program and its long-term sustainability, the state’s market is still relatively small.

High prices and a ban on smokable forms of marijuana could continue to hamper enrollment.

Eli McVey can be reached at [email protected]

2 comments on “Chart: Sharp rise in Minnesota medical marijuana patients buoys businesses
  1. Lawrence Goodwin on

    Thanks for the update, Eli. This is the part that clearly reveals the arrogance at work in both Minnesota and New York: “High prices and a ban on smokable forms of marijuana could continue to hamper enrollment.” In 2014, when nearly identical medical cannabis laws were passed in both MN and NY, career politicians and bureaucrats had agreed to force this ‘no smoking’ rule upon the entire country, claiming it’s a ‘model’ for other states to follow. I get the risk of damage to lung tissue that every individual faces when burning properly cured and dried cannabis flowers and inhaling the smoke. But ultimately, that decision is NOT up to politicians and bureaucrats; even if their intentions are to reduce smoking-related diseases. Imagine the public fury if they tried to remove all tobacco products from store shelves. You want successful cannabis businesses? Repeal such unfair rules. Empower doctors in MN and NY—and all of the ‘no smoking’ states—to recommend the whole wide range of cannabis products (flower, edibles, drinks, topicals, hash, wax, etc), and offer education about safe consumption methods. Empower patients to decide for themselves which products they will consume, and how. Do all of that by tomorrow. Considering the totally fraudulent claims about “marihuana” foisted upon America by arrogant politicians and bureaucrats for 80 years now (1937-2017), the vast majority of officials today simply cannot be trusted to act in the public interest.

    Reply
    • Andrew Collier on

      This is the part that clearly reveals the arrogance at work in both Minnesota and New York: “High prices and a ban on smokable forms of marijuana could continue to hamper enrollment.”

      Well put. This is what Hayek called “Fatal Conceit” and it is rampant these days.

      Reply

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