Medical marijuana law needs change

An expensive and restrictive process won’t give the medicine an effective start.

Minnesota’s medical marijuana law — one of the most limited of its kind in the nation — is moving ahead as planned, as the state recently opened applications for potential manufacturers and distributors of the drug.

State officials will evaluate applicants based on their financial stability, how they plan to safely grow marijuana and how they would securely transport it. But before any company applies for the two coveted spots, they’ll have to fork over a $20,000 fee.

By 2016, the two companies selected will be required by law to have four distribution centers each. This seems inadequate, given that only eight facilities are expected to provide a valuable form of medicine to any qualified resident out of Minnesota’s 5.4 million people.

In addition, placing a hefty financial barrier to applying and capping the number of companies chosen at two creates great restrictions on what could be a highly profitable industry in Minnesota — if it was allowed to grow.

Some estimates predict legal marijuana sales will surpass $8 billion in 2018, with the possibility of significant tax revenues.

The rhetoric surrounding medical cannabis in Minnesota has been laid out clearly. Law enforcement in the state is too afraid of marijuana getting into the wrong hands, which has created a law that prevents a new industry from growing and makes a beneficial medicine difficult to access for many sick people.

While the current medical marijuana law is a step in the right direction, we believe it needs modification before it can truly benefit Minnesota’s people and economy.