First medical marijuana dispensary outside Twin Cities opens in Rochester

Medical marijuana in MN is smoke-free
Only smoke-free medical marijuana, sold as pills, oils or tinctures, is available for qualifying patients in Minnesota. Only 183 patients have been approved in the state registry to consume medical cannabis as of July 17, according to the state Department of Health.
Jennifer Simonson | MPR News file

The state's first medical marijuana dispensary outside the Twin Cities will open Thursday in Rochester.

Minnesota Medical Solutions will open the new clinic in the northern part of the city. CEO Dr. Kyle Kingsley said it made sense to open the company's second facility in Rochester due to the presence of the Mayo Clinic.

"It's a medical city," Kingsley said. "We think it's the best choice to give the most people the most access."

Minnesota Medical Solutions is one of two companies allowed to manufacture medical marijuana under the state law passed last year. The state's law is the among the strictest in the nation. It does not allow medical marijuana to be smoked. Instead, the drug comes in pill, tincture or oil forms.

Under the state law, medical marijuana is only available for patients suffering from any of nine conditions including epilepsy, cancer, HIV and AIDS.

Patients must also be certified by a healthcare practitioner who must in turn register with the state. Just 298 healthcare practitioners have been approved to certify patients and only 183 patients have been approved in the state registry to pick up medical cannabis, according to numbers released Friday by the Minnesota Department of Health.

Minnesota Medical Solutions opened the state's first medical marijuana dispensary in Minneapolis on July 1, the first day that eligible patients could obtain medical marijuana. The company will open another clinic in Moorhead later this summer and another in the western suburbs before next July.

LeafLine Labs is the other company allowed to distribute medical marijuana. LeafLine operates a clinic in Eagan with plans to open clinics in St. Cloud later this summer, and in St. Paul and Hibbing by early 2016.

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