MN medical cannabis regulator seeks additional $500,000

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Minnesota’s medical marijuana regulatory agency said it needs more money to fund the operation of a patient database and the inspection of the state’s two MMJ drug manufacturers.

The Office of Medical Cannabis is requesting $500,000 in additional funds over the next two years, underscoring the financial squeeze regulators face in overseeing one of the more heavily restricted MMJ industries nationwide, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.

The funding request comes on top of the $1.4 million a year the state kicks in to help cover operating costs, according to the newspaper.

State regulators say they require the funds to pay for the unexpectedly costly maintenance of their 24/7 patient registry and the more than 120 inspections they conduct annually. LeafLine Labs and Minnesota Medical Solutions are the state’s only MMJ businesses.

Additional costs for the program include licensing software, fixing problems with the patient registry and travel to MMJ distribution sites across the state.

Since it began in 2014, Minnesota’s program has been notoriously restrictive. The MMJ patient numbers were so low some industry experts thought the program would never get off the ground. But after the addition of intractable pain to the state’s condition’s list for patients in 2016, the numbers have seen a steady incline.