Hibbing couple thrilled by daughter's early response to medical marijuana

Amelia Weaver, 9, started receiving medical marijuana treatments Friday for a rare form of epilepsy. Her parents say that her seizures have decreased dramatically since treatment began.

It's early days, but a Hibbing couple are ecstatic about their daughter's initial response to treatment with medical marijuana.

"We gave her her first dose on Friday morning," Angie Weaver said on Monday about 9-year-old daughter Amelia. "She had a seizure-free day."

Amelia, who has Dravet syndrome, a rare and catastrophic form of epilepsy, had been suffering between 30 and 80 drop seizures per day, her mother said. In a drop seizure, the individual temporarily loses muscle strength and often falls without any ability to catch herself.


Why hemp and marijuana are different

Since 1970, all Cannabis plants have been classified as controlled substances by the federal government, but nearly half of all states, including Minnesota, now define hemp as distinct from marijuana.

Genetic differences between hemp and marijuana determine whether Cannabis plants have the potential for psychoactivity, a new study by University of Minnesota scientists shows.


MN: Medical marijuana, now legal, still not easy to get for some

ST. PAUL, Minn. — It’s a 400-mile, seven-hour, $100 or more journey from Maria Botker’s home in tiny Clinton to the nearest clinic where she can buy medical marijuana — the only drug that does the trick for her daughter’s rare and aggressive seizure disorder.

In addition to the medicine’s high cost, the short list of qualifying conditions and the difficulty in getting a doctor’s approval to sign up, there’s one more thing making the program difficult for Minnesota patients. Some have to come an awfully long way to get it, with only two of eight dispensaries opening since the July 1 launch.


Why medical marijuana is off to slow start in Minnesota

Only smoke-free medical marijuana, sold as pills, oils or tinctures, will be available for qualifying patients.

Jessica Blake has been battling a potentially deadly brain tumor for months. The former Esko high school teacher lives in Duluth, where her parents have moved in to help care for her.

It’s been tough lately. Blake can’t keep most medicine down, and the conventional drug she got from her doctor didn’t work.

“It actually gave me hallucinations,” she recalled. “It was terrifying. I don’t ever want to experience that again.” The hallucinations went on for two days.

“When Jessica said that was two lost days, that’s very difficult,” said her mother, Kathleen Blake. “Because she is not sure how much time she has.”


Medical marijuana, now legal, still not easy to get for some - Kare 11

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Maria Botker has to drive 400 miles round-trip to buy the medical marijuana that treats her daughter Greta's rare seizure disorder. She's not the only Minnesotan making long drives.

Just two facilities in Minneapolis and Eagan opened when Minnesota's new medical marijuana program launched this month. That pits patients and parents in rural areas with long trips and extra expenses to buy the new medicine.

A third clinic will open in Rochester this week. Eventually eight sites will be scattered across Minnesota.

Botker says more locations are needed. Sen. Scott Dibble agrees.


Minnesota Lawmaker Who Backed Medical Marijuana Law Hired By Leafline Labs

Minnesota Rep. Dan Schoen has taken a contract-basis job as security consultant of the cannabis company LeafLine Labs. He will be on unpaid leave until the end of the year, to aid in LeafLine’s clinic operations. He co-sponsored last year’s medical marijuana bill.

Minnesota State Representative Dan Schoen, DFL-Cottage Grove, accepted a contract-basis job as a security consultant of the medical marijuana manufacturer LeafLine Labs.

The Cottage Grove police officer co-sponsored last year's medical marijuana bill, and worked with LeafLine Labs when the cannabis manufacturer was looking for cities in which to operate.


Third state official joins medical marijuana company

A third state official connected with legalizing medical cannabis has gone to work with one of the companies growing it.

Jamie Olson was a legislative analyst and a key figure in the startup of the industry. She helped lead the initial public meeting as the state prepared to select two growers to supply medical cannabis.


Legislator, advocate for medical marijuana law takes job with cannabis firm, Leafline Labs

Rep. Dan Schoen, DFL-Cottage Grove, a co-sponsor of last year's medical marijuana bill, said Tuesday that he has accepted a consulting job with LeafLine Labs, one of two cannabis companies in the state. 

Schoen said he is taking an unpaid leave from his job as a Cottage Grove police officer through the end of the year. During that time, he said he will work as a security consultant on a contract basis with LeafLine Labs.

He declined to specify how much the job pays, but said "it's less than I made being a police officer."

Schoen said he worked with LeafLine Labs last year when they contacted him for help in scouting cities that would let them operate.


Enrollment in Minnesota's medical marijuana program still low

Fewer than 100 patients made it into Minnesota’s medical marijuana program in the first month.

Medical marijuana became legal in Minnesota on Wednesday, after a monthlong enrollment period and a yearlong rollout. As of Thursday, 192 patients had been certified to participate in the program by a doctor or other health care provider and 98 had paid their fees, completed their paperwork and were eligible to participate in the program.

State officials, and the two companies that have poured millions of dollars into launching the program, say they are not worried about the low initial sign-up numbers.


One in four people prescribed opioids progressed to longer-term prescriptions

Opioid painkiller addiction and accidental overdoses have become far too common across the United States. To try to identify who is most at risk, Mayo Clinic researchers studied how many patients prescribed an opioid painkiller for the first time progressed to long-term prescriptions. The answer: 1 in 4. People with histories of tobacco use and substance abuse were likeliest to use opioid painkillers long-term.


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