Sensible Change Minnesota condemns efforts to tax medical cannabis

Sensible Change Minnesota supports the effort to legalize adult use cannabis, expunge criminal records, expand access to medical cannabis, and regulate the existing hemp-derived, converted THC market.  We vigorously condemn any efforts to tax medical cannabis, increase cost to patients, or loosen regulations on cannabis products sold for health, wellness, or intoxicating purposes. 

There is a push by some in the hemp industry to tax medical cannabis, directly increasing costs for patients who rely on it to treat a variety of health conditions. This is in response to a modest 8% cannabis tax being placed on hemp products by HF100/SF73. They argue this will cause consumers to ‘turn to medical cannabis’ instead of hemp derived products, which is very unlikely. While patients have needed to access cannabis products through the open market, we believe that with the passage of SF73/HF100, patients will be able to access high-quality, affordable, medical-grade cannabis and feel confident that they are using it safely for their specific condition. We feel strongly that patients should not be the hemp industry’s pawn in their arguments for looser regulation and further tax benefit to the hemp industry.  

As an organization that is led by patients and consumers, we appreciate the work Senator Port and Representative Stephenson have done to center consumer safety, patient access, small business, and restorative justice in this bill. One important provision includes a lifetime registration fee for the medical program of $40 instead of the annual $50 to $200 fee, saving patients thousands of dollars in clinic and registration fees. We look forward to continuing the conversation over the next few weeks to ensure consumers and patients are not left behind after three months of the hemp industry dominating the conversation.

Jessica Hauser, co-founder of Sensible Change Minnesota and parent to one of Minnesota’s first patients says: “It is selfish for a handful of businesses to put their bottom line ahead of the hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans who will benefit from improved access to medical cannabis, expungement, access to capital for small businesses via the grant programs, and a safe, regulated market place where hemp and cannabis co-exist.”

Sensible Change Minnesota’s priorities within HF100/SF73 are:

  • Ensuring access to quality, affordable medical cannabis statewide;
  • Strengthening patient protections against employer and landlord discrimination;
  • Preventing further market takeover by large, out-of-state and multistate operators;
  • Promoting the value of labor protections for workers who are often marginalized in the cannabis industry; and
  • Expunging the records of those convicted of cannabis offenses.

While we believe the bill could go further in these areas, we appreciate the authors’ willingness to push the envelope while navigating perilous political waters, and stand with our partners at MNisReady to get this bill passed in 2023.