Parents Going the Distance to Get Medical Marijuana for Their Children

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Medical marijuana may now be legal in 24 jurisdictions across the U.S., but that doesn’t mean there’s a medical marijuana dispensary in every major city throughout these states and the capital.

So in order to obtain the medicinal marijuana that will treat their children, a growing number of parents are driving hours away from their homes to reach the nearest dispensary.

According to a December 3 CBS Minnesota article, Minnesota’s newly authorized medical marijuana plan accounts for its first dispensaries to be located in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Eagan, Maple Grove, St. Cloud, Hibbing, Rochester and Moorhead. For many Minnesotans, this means distances of hundreds of miles to the nearest medical marijuana dispensary.

Jeremy Pauling, a Montevideo, MN man whose daughter suffers from chronic seizures, will have to drive four hours to the nearest dispensary in St. Cloud and back. And his drive isn’t even the longest distance that Minnesotans would have to face.

“Two hours for me to drive for my daughter — I’ll do it,” Pauling said. “I’m concerned about the cancer patient in … the southwestern part of the state that cannot. You forgot a quarter of the state of Minnesota.”

Pauling is part of a task force focused on monitoring his home state’s newly passed medical marijuana program; he, along with other task force members, are pushing for a revision of the state’s eight dispensaries. The task force’s suggestions have included creating a delivery service and allowing patients to bring home more quantities of medical marijuana per visit, CBS Minnesota reports.

Peter Bachman, president of LeafLine, one of Minnesota’s two medical marijuana manufacturers, said the dispensary locations were determined due to each city’s own restrictions and regulations on the business these dispensaries would bring in.

And setting up more than eight dispensaries would violate Minnesota’s legislation, which has been called one of the most restrictive medical marijuana laws in the country.

“(The law was) not a product of paramount concern of patient access serving or patients in general. It was sort of a political solution,” Sen. Branden Petersen, an Andover Republican and task force member, told CBS Minnesota. “Patients would be better served by more locations.”

Despite this, it appears that many Minnesota parents are willing to make the trek to their nearest medical marijuana dispensary when they open their doors on July 1. When medical marijuana treats so many illnesses that plague children, especially epilepsy, the trip is worth it, task force member and parent Maria Botker told CBS Minnesota.

“Would I love to have it just across the road from me? Absolutely,” she said. “We have a long way to go. I’m realistic enough to know that perfect isn’t right around the corner.”

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