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The Land Of 10,000 Lakes traditionally has not been synonymous with a cannabis-infused climate, but that may soon be changing. There has been an unexpected statewide movement toward legalization, and a corresponding interest in all things insurance.

Currently, Minnesota has a medical cannabis program that has slowly expanded from its restrictive beginnings. Since its beginnings in 2014, advocates have pushed for and obtained approval for additional qualifying conditions: intractable pain, PTSD, obstructive sleep apnea, autism, Alzheimer’s disease and chronic pain. On the table currently are ADHD, anxiety, insomnia and macular degeneration.

A 222-page bill has been introduced in the legislature that would fully legalize adult-use cannabis, although the bill has been tabled for now due to the pandemic. With the entire state legislature up for reelection in November, some Minnesota politicos are predicting forward movement by this fall.

At the same time, Minnesota’s Red Lake Nation has approved legalization of the production, regulation and distribution of medical cannabis throughout the tribal nation. It will also allow the sale of raw flower, which is still prohibited in the state’s medical cannabis program. A broader range of qualifying conditions than the state allows is expected to be adopted.

Another sign of relaxing regulations occurred this July, as the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) announced that the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) has approved the state’s hemp production plan. The program covers thousands of acres in Minnesota, with nearly 600 registered hemp growers.

“We thank USDA for their work on this new federal hemp program, and we are grateful they have approved Minnesota’s plan,” said MDA Commissioner Thom Petersen. “While this is a major step forward, there are still concerns over some the regulations imposed on states and tribal governments, such as testing requirements. We look forward to continuing our dialog with USDA so we can ensure Minnesota’s hemp growers and processors are successful in this fledging industry.”