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Gummies soon coming to state medical cannabis patients, but how will hemp THC edibles impact the program?

RAMSEY, Minn. — Gummies and chews will soon be available to patients certified in Minnesota to take cannabis for a medical condition, a move that will further increase options to the state program that’s grown in the last several years.

The gummies will be available in the state’s dispensaries starting Aug. 1, with a single serving not exceeding 10 mg and 100 mg per package. Ratios of CBD and THC will vary. That’s double the amount of THC from hemp in food and drinks allowable under a new state law that legalized the edibles for the general public.

“I think it’s significant for many patients from the perspective that each patient has a unique situation, has a unique condition,” said Chris Tholkes, the director of the Office of Medical Cannabis in the health department.  “Having multiple delivery methods for medication is really desirable for patients who have trouble swallowing a pill, for example, a gummy might be a really great option for them.”



But how will hemp-derived THC edibles impact the program?

Tholkes, director of the state program, acknowledged their availability creates competition with the medical cannabis offerings. There is nothing stopping someone from having more than one serving of the hemp edibles at 5 mg and doubling it to the amount allowed per serving in the state program.

The products now available at retail stores also might be cheaper, she said, and their presence in the market will drive down the price of medical cannabis, not covered by health insurance.

“I think it might deter some folks—some will certainly move over to the over the counter,” she said. “I think that our manufacturers are going to have to look at the full marketplace that’s out there when setting their prices.”

Minnesota’s program is expensive and some advocates say that creates a barrier to people who otherwise would want to join, a reality Tholkes acknowledged, too. As of July 21, there were more than 38,000 registered, according to program data.

There are the costs for the products themselves and a $200 annual registration fee, reduced to $50 for those on Social Security disability, medical assistance, and more. Patients in some cases may have to pay out-of-pocket for a doctor to certify that they have one of the qualifying conditions making them eligible for the program.

Joan Barron, who’s been a patient for five years because of her chronic nerve condition that causes severe pain, is excited about the arrival of gummies in the state program. She is already using the hemp-THC gummies in addition to a variety of medical cannabis products that cost her roughly $200 a month, including the raw flower that was approved last year by the Legislature and made available in March. 

A study by the state health department found Minnesotans spent on average $316 per month in 2019.

Those high costs are why Barron welcomes lawmakers’ move to legalize THC from hemp this year.

“It’s unattainable for a lot of Minnesotans, so I’m grateful that this law passed, and now there are edibles from hemp grown right here in Minnesota,” she said. “It gives people another option instead of opiates.”

Barron used opioids for 20 years to help ease her pain, battling side effects that left her “lethargic, moody, and argumentative” and unable to get out of bed most days.

“It’s completely changed my life,” she said of cannabis. “I am more active. I like to go for walks. I like to get in the garden. I enjoy my life better.”

Tholkes also highlighted the medical program’s testing requirements, which she said are more stringent than what’s required to test the hemp products.

“I think the pros for participating in our program though are that we will have a consistent product, a medical-grade product and our laboratory testing is run through labs that have been vetted by the state health department,” she said. “People on my staff have read those certificates of analysis and can speak to the quality of the product. That’s not happening with the over-the-counter products.”

Source: CBS Minnesota

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