A survey conducted last week by the Minnesota Medical Association is causing angst among a large number of patients who were hoping to take advantage of the state’s long-awaited, though cumbersome, medical marijuana program.
Though the first medical cannabis distribution centers are scheduled to open in less than 30 days, the MMA’s survey found that nearly 70% of the 457 physicians that responded had no plans to obtain the certification necessary to recommend cannabis oil. Furthermore, just 9% of the respondents said they would be certifying patients, and 17% hadn’t made up their minds. Another 7% treat patients who are not eligible for the medical cannabis program.
Minnesota’s medical marijuana program is designed to suck
Probably the saddest thing about the whole program — which is designed to look and feel like a solution to the medical marijuana question while simultaneously alienating thousands of patients that could have benefited from a reasonable law — are the hoops Minnesota’s sickest patients must jump through in order to be deemed worthy of obtaining their marijuana-ish substance from one of two licensed growers at a ridiculous cost.
Here are the steps necessary to qualify for Minnesota’s medical marijuana program:
- If you have one of the nine qualifying conditions, you must schedule an appointment with the healthcare provider (doctor, PA or NP) that is responsible for treating you for that condition. You must then hope he or she is among the 9% listed above that said they will participate in the program. Has your doctor, like most Minnesota doctors, decided not to participate in the program? Tough shit. Want to find a doctor that DOES participate in the medical cannabis program and build a relationship with them? Double tough shit, the state won’t be providing that information.
- Is your doctor participating? You lucky dog, you. Now just visit your doctor (don’t forget to bring the 2-page form that requires your email address and personal information) and get the doctor to provide you with a list of all of your conditions and medications you are taking before you leave. Your pharmacist is going to need that.
- Wait an unspecified amount of time for your doctor to “certify” you, after which you will receive an email from the state inviting you to register for the medical cannabis program online.
- Go register! Now all you have to do is create an account on the state’s website so that they can charge your credit card $200 ($50 if you are disabled) for the privilege of registering to obtain marijuana-ish products. Make sure your card has an expiration date far into the future because they intend to hit it for $200 each and every year. Also, if you change your address at any point you have to notify the state within 30 days or pay a $100 fine.
- Complete a self-evaluation form and visit your designated distribution center, where a licensed pharmacist will review all of your conditions and provide you with what he or she thinks will best suit you. A 30-day supply of medical cannabis will cost you $500, and you must log on to the state website and complete the self-evaluation form prior to each subsequent visit to pick up your medicine.
It’s called medical cannabis, not pharmacological cannabis, and the fact that states are beginning to treat it the same way they would treat other scheduled substances produced and sold by “traditional” pharmaceutical companies should be enough to make activists begin to realize that it is the over-pharmacologicalization of cannabis, not legalization itself, that is the next frontier in the fight for patient rights.