Medical cannabis patients worried shift in oversight will dampen their voices

(KSTP) – Beginning Tuesday, recreational marijuana will be legal in Minnesota and the current Medical Cannabis Task Force, which helps oversee the medical cannabis program, will be disbanded and replaced by a new, 50-member Recreational Cannabis Advisory Council, which only has three members connected to the medical cannabis program.

Patrick McClellan is a medical cannabis patient who helped write the current law that created the Minnesota medical cannabis program. McClellan told our sister station, ABC Twin Cities affiliate, KSTP-TV that he’s concerned the dissolution of the Medical Cannabis Task Force will leave the state’s 40,000 medical cannabis patients on the sidelines with their voices not being heard.

“The Cannabis Task Force has given patients direct access to the people who ran the medical cannabis program and also to the legislature that oversees it,” said McClellan. “This is a very important issue. Minnesota’s medical cannabis patients are the most vulnerable users of these products. Their voices should be amplified. Not muted.”

State Sen. Mark Koran, R-North Branch, co-chaired the Medical Cannabis Task Force. Koran says he shares the same concerns about cannabis patients and their needs getting drowned out by the new push to make recreational marijuana a success.

“The voices have been removed,” Koran said. “And so we’ll lose the medical expertise, and to me, that’s a sad outcome of this, the disregard. If they could have gotten rid of medicinal cannabis, I think they would have.”

Koran also said the recreational market could also lead to the demise of the medical cannabis program.

“The recreational market will likely kill a real medicinal market. And what you lose with that is someone who’s medically trained to help you understand its benefits,” said Koran.