St. Paul – September 8, 2019


Sensible Change Minnesota Calls on Governor, Legislative Leaders, to Ensure Medical Cannabis Safety in Wake of Vaping-Related Illnesses

With the surge of vaping-related lung illnesses reported in the media, Sensible Change Minnesota is calling on elected leaders to immediately address access to and the affordability of medical cannabis in Minnesota. Minnesota’s patients are turning to the illicit market to obtain cannabis products, which is where most of the illness-causing THC vaping oil is traced back to.

With the confirmed cases of vaping-related lipoid pneumonia and three deaths—including one in Minnesota—medical cannabis patients are concerned for their health from the use of oil for vaporization and vaporizer cartridges. The Minnesota Department of Health advises that people, including medical cannabis patients, with lung symptoms after vaping should seek clinical care and avoid vaping products, and that much remains unknown about the health risks of vaping.

Katy Cummins-Bakko, a medical cannabis patient with a genetic connective tissue disease, has forgone 200 milligrams of Oxycodone per day with her use of medical cannabis products. She says, “the answer isn’t to decrease access to the medications we need; patients must be allowed to access cannabis in its natural plant form.” She also urges more oral options be added to the program.

“This is a public health emergency and it directly impacts some of the sickest Minnesotans; Governor Walz and legislative leadership, should begin meeting with medical cannabis patients, and other stakeholders, to ensure patient safety and access is a priority in Minnesota,” said Maren Schroeder, Sensible Change Minnesota’s Policy Director. “At a time of uncertainty surrounding the cause of these illnesses, we must ensure patients are provided with the safest possible products, including raw cannabis that has undergone contaminant testing and additive-free oils.”

Sensible Change Minnesota calls on Governor Walz to meet with patients, as well as Senators Benson and Abler, and Representatives Liebling and Moran, to call informational hearings to investigate patient access barriers and ensure the safety of legally obtained products. The organization also urges local producers of legitimate medical cannabis and CBD products to consider alternatives to thinning agents and other non-cannabis additives that may pose potential health risks to consumers.

About Sensible Change Minnesota

About Sensible Change Minnesota: Sensible Change Minnesota is a 501(c)4 non-profit that aims to make our neighborhoods safer and more inclusive for those negatively impacted by cannabis prohibition and the war on drugs by promoting policies that emphasize compassion over isolation, restorative justice over incarceration, and public health over stigma.  You can learn more about the organization by visiting

Press Contact:    Maren Schroeder, Policy Director, [email protected], 507-226-3578