Minnesota medical marijuana producer expanding to New York

Minnesota Medical Solutions dispensary
This former League of Catholic Women building in downtown Minneapolis has been remade into a secure medical cannabis dispensary by Minnesota Medical Solutions. It is one of eight such facilities in the state.
Tim Nelson | MPR News file

Minnesota Medical Solutions, one of two Minnesota medical marijuana producers, is expanding to the state of New York.

The company started sales earlier this month in Minnesota, and was one of five successful bidders to provide similar products in New York.

The New York branch, Empire State Health Solutions, will be run by the same Minnesota physician, CEO Dr. Kyle Kingsley.

"We are building...the Minn Med model in New York, and that has been validated through their selection process," said Kingsley in an interview Friday morning, when New York named its licensees.

The firm was one of 43 vying to win a medical marijuana franchise in New York.

Minnesota Medical Solutions was named one of two providers in Minnesota last year, after the state legalized medical cannabis for people who suffer from nine defined conditions.

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New York has a very similar law, with a set of defined conditions, and provisions to allow health care providers to authorize patients to obtain the drug--although that process differs from Minnesota slightly.

Minnesota's program has been off to a slow start, in part observers say, because of hesitation by doctors and other providers regarding the process for referring drugs to the two initial dispensaries that provide the drug.

Minnesota Medical Solutions also said last week it had to hike prices substantially because of the unexpectedly low demand, manufacturing costs and a discount it was offering for Medical Assistance, Minnesota's Medicaid program.

The other Minnesota company is LeafLine labs. The two providers have grow operations in Otsego and Cottage Grove and dispensaries in Minneapolis and Eagan, with a third scheduled for Rochester. Others are scheduled to open in St. Cloud, St. Paul, Hibbing, Eden Prairie and Moorhead.

Because federal law prohibits the interstate transport of marijuana, Minnesota Medical Solutions won't be able to grow or supply the drug for the New York outlets.

Empire State will have its own growing operation in Perth, New York, and will have dispensaries in Broome, Westchester and Albany counties, as well as Queens in New York City. New York is expected to allow medical marijuana sales starting in January.

Eligible conditions for New York medical marijuana patients include cancer, HIV infection or AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury with spasticity, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathy and Huntington's disease.

The associated or complicating conditions are cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe or chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures, or severe or persistent muscle spasms.