Medical marijuana dispensaries lose millions of dollars during - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Medical marijuana dispensaries lose millions of dollars during the last two years, despite patients reporting great benefits from the program


A recent study from the Minnesota Department of Health shows that a majority of patients using medical cannabis reported benefits during the first year.
Despite the success story, financial records obtained by the Associated Press show that the two licensed medical marijuana manufacturers in Minnesota lost a combined $11 millions during the past 2 years.

The Minnesota Medical Solutions reported a $1.2 million loss last year, a year after losing more than $3 million.
LeafLine Labs, another medicinal marijuana manufacturer, said it lost $4.7 million last year -- and $2.2 million the year before.

A study from the Minnesota Department of Health shows that 64 percent of patients reported they greatly benefited from the program, they also reported that affordability is still an issue since medical marijuana is not covered by health insurance.
The MDH study draws on data from survey results, enrollment, purchasing and health related information.  It describes the experience of patients using medical cannabis from the program's start in July of 2015 through June, 2016
The survey asked patients to rate the benefits they received  from using medical cannabis on a scale from 1 to 7--7 being the most beneficial.
Sixty-four percent of patients gave a rating of 6 or 7, 30% said they saw a reduction in their symptoms, and 9% said they saw little or no benefit -- a rating of 1, 2 or 3.

A spokesperson from MinnMed said this in a statement to KTTC: "From a financial perspective, 2016 was a much better year than 2015. Revenues increased from less than $500,000 to more than $2 million, while losses decreased from approx. $3 million to $1 million. We certainly hope to break-even in 2017 but since we are not yet half-way through the calendar year it is a bit premature to make a projection."

Colin Kelley, COO and CFO of LeafLine Labs also sent a statement to KTTC: "In terms of loss this past year, our priorities went to our growth into four patient care centers and increasing our number of employees to over 65 Minnesotans. Our losses were expected, but have no bearing on our future as we continue to beat our own financial projections. We have, and will always, prioritize our patients over profits."

Addressing the affordability problem for patients, Kelley said: "Many of our patients are coming to LeafLine Labs having spent years, and many dollars, on prescription drugs that have not proven successful, and have often caused more harm in terms of side effects. With an average cost of less than $189 per month, we believe that the life-changing benefits of high quality, consistent medical cannabis outweighs the hinderance around cost. However, with the limitations around health insurance, LeafLine Labs does have a compassionate care program in place to help reduce the cost of medicine and provide access to medical cannabis.  Additionally, our whole plant extract medicines are undiluted and are benchmarked in cost per dose nationally."  

The spokesperson with MinnMed also said: "We will continue to work with MDH to expand patient access and provide high-quality medical cannabis that can be used to treat some of the most debilitating ailments, like cancer, AIDS and ALS. We believe that the program will continue to grow and become more successful." 

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