Audit Reveals Inadequate Oversight of Minnesota’s Medical Cannabis Program

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An audit of the Minnesota Health Department’s controls and compliance has revealed several ways that the state’s medical cannabis program is not being correctly monitored, according to a Duluth News Tribune report.

The Office of the Legislative Auditor, the state’s legislative watchdog, examined the program’s operations from July 2016 through December 2018, the news outlet reported, and found the following issues:

  • Failure to verify new patients’ doctors were licensed and in good standing;
  • Poor record-keeping for parent and guardian eligibility for the program;
  • Problems with oversight of patient fees collected by the state;
  • Inadequate oversight of cannabis manufacturers, including failure to adequately track and test the drug prior to sale; and
  • Too few controls to detect loss of medical cannabis by the manufacturer.

The audit did not include an evaluation of Minnesota’s two licensed medical cannabis operators, LeafLine Labs and Minnesota Medical Solutions, the Duluth News Tribune reported.

Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm submitted a response to the audit, indicating that health officials agree with the findings and that they have made efforts throughout the past year to improve their oversight of the program, and that further improvements may require legislative action, according to the news outlet.

Minnesota lawmakers approved a medical cannabis law in 2014, and the program now has roughly 17,000 patients, according to the Duluth News Tribune.

The state has an extract-only cannabis market—smokable flower is prohibited—and has experienced slow growth, in part due to the high costs associated with producing cannabis extracts. Heading into the 2020 legislative session, the state’s medical cannabis businesses are advocating for the legalization of flower to make the program more affordable.

While such legislation has yet to be introduced, lawmakers are working on a proposal to legalize adult-use cannabis in the state after a similar proposal stalled in the Senate last spring.

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