Medical marijuana company Vireo Health, a subsidiary of Goodness Growth Holdings Inc. (OTC: GDNSF) is fighting back against a recent loophole for edibles in the state of Minnesota. The conflict stems from a recent amendment to Minnesota laws that was enacted on July 1, 2022. The statute § 151.72 governs edible products created from hemp. Minn. Stat. § 151.72, was amended by H.F. 4065 and it now allows anyone to sell edible products with up to 5 milligrams of THC derived from hemp and a THC concentration of up to 0.3% to anyone over the age of 21. The complaint against the state says that the hemp-derived edibles are chemically identical to medical cannabis-derived edibles sold by Vireo that have the same type, quantity, and concentration of THC.
In the complaint, Vireo states that it is one of two companies that are legally authorized to distribute medical cannabis in the State of Minnesota. The company notes that its operations and sales are heavily regulated and must comply with stringent testing, reporting, security, and eligibility requirements set forth in the state. The complaint says, “According to those laws, Vireo can sell its medical cannabis products, including THC-infused edibles, only to patients with qualifying medical conditions who are registered in the state’s medical cannabis registry. Vireo’s compliance with the Medical Cannabis Laws is closely watched by a dedicated regulatory agency, the Office of Medical Cannabis.”
Vireo complains that the hemp edibles recently legalized have no product oversight. “Unlike the Medical Cannabis Laws, the Hemp Statute imposes few limitations on the sale of hemp-derived edibles. And unlike medical cannabis-derived edibles, which are regulated by the Office of Medical Cannabis, hemp-derived edibles are overseen by the understaffed and underfunded Board of Pharmacy.” Vireo says that there are simply not enough regulatory or law enforcement resources available to ensure that hemp-based edibles being sold in Minnesota are legal and safe.
Vireo points out in its complaint that the only difference between hemp edibles and medical marijuana edibles is the amount of THC. The hemp products contain less than 0.3% THC, while anything else over that is considered medical marijuana. Vireo argues that consumers get the same psychoactive effect from an edible with .3% THC as they do with one containing .5% THC. Vireo also claims that some stores are selling hemp edibles with as much as 10mg of THC violating the statute, but that there is no enforcement.
The company went on to outline all the rules and regulations it faces as well as the restrictions that are placed on the consumers. The state limits the number of companies that can produce and sell medical marijuana, but there are no limitations on hemp providers. There is also no testing of the hemp products that can be sold anywhere like in gas stations, liquor stores and CBD shops.
On June 20, 2022, Vireo filed with the OMC a request for a variance from regulations that prohibit Vireo from selling medical cannabis-derived edibles to buyers over the age of 21 who are not qualified patients. On July 13, 2022, the OMC denied the requested variance. According to the OMC, under the Medical Cannabis Laws, Vireo cannot legally sell medical cannabis-derived edibles over the counter to everyone over the age of 21, as sellers of hemp-derived edibles can.
Vireo wants relief. The company is asking that it be allowed to sell its edibles as freely as the hemp edible sellers and to no be fine as a result.
Last month, the company announced the addition of cannabis-infused gummies to its Vireo brand in Minnesota. The gummies are available in 10mg THC formulations and in Key Lime, Concord Grape, Hawaiian Pineapple and Oxnard Strawberry flavors. An additional formulation, with equal amounts of THC and CBD and in Alfonso Mango flavor, is expected to follow. Vireo gummies are available in all eight of the company’s Green Goods dispensaries in Minnesota.
“Minnesota’s medical cannabis program allows for people with a variety of different medical diagnoses to seek relief using medical cannabis,” said Kyle Kingsley, M.D., Goodness Growth Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “The more options we are able to offer our patients, the better we are able to meet their different medical needs. And patients can rest assured that our gummies, like all of our products, are tested by licensed, independent quality assurance laboratories to ensure they meet strict standards for purity, potency and quality.”