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After originally leaving hospitals off of the list of approved health care providers able to dispense medical marijuana in Minnesota, state lawmakers voted to expand the law in the final days of the 2015 session.

Now, following the enactment of medical marijuana legalization in July 2015, hospitals and health care facilities will be permitted to control and dispense permissible forms of the plant for registered patients.

Hospitals will not be responsible for acquiring the marijuana for patients from one of the two licensed Minnesota producers. Caregivers, family members and patients will be allowed to bring in their own medical marijuana supplies and have it managed, along with the other medications, by a member of the hospital staff. At least one member of each hospital staff will become an eligible caregiver through a process set forth by the state.

In order to be treated with medical marijuana, patients must already be on the Minnesota medical cannabis patient registry and be actively receiving care at the health care facility.

This alteration to the original law, approved by Gov. Mark Dayton, protects hospital staff from prosecution for handling medical marijuana while on the job. Manny Munson-Regala, assistant state health commissioner, spoke about the updated law:

“Those hospitals that are willing to continue the care regimen of those patients in their hospital setting, they said the state law needs to give us the same abilities and immunities that are afforded nursing homes.”

While dried cannabis leaves and any other form of smokeable marijuana will remain illegal in Minnesota, pill and liquid forms will become available for medically approved patients on July 1. Patient registration begins June 1.

The first cannabis patient dispensaries will open the first of July in Minneapolis, Eagan, and St. Cloud. Other locations are planned in St. Paul, Hibbing, and three other cities.

photo credit: publicradio.org

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