Citing lab delays, LeafLine to temporarily scale back operations

Managing chronic pain and post traumatic stress disorder became a lot easier for Kellie Germann when medical cannabis became available to her here in Minnesota two years ago, though a recent shortage is now threatening her relatively newfound relief. 

LeafLine Labs, one of two medical marijuana companies in Minnesota, said Tuesday it is temporarily consolidating its operations after lagging laboratory testing caused the company to subsequently delay the release of more product to its patients.

As a result, Germann now faces at least six days without her medication--an eternity for someone facing flashbacks, insomnia, anxiety and chronic fatigue, among other things.

"Our health is at risk right now--everybody’s," she said. "That's the scary part."

Medical cannabis advocacy organization Sensible Minnesota said in a statement that it has been receiving similar reports of a medical cannabis shortage at LeafLine since last week, ultimately caused by what it calls the "restrictive nature" of Minnesota's laws. The company later confirmed that at least 10-20 patients in the Twin Cities metro were affected.

The third-party testing LeafLine cites is mandated by the state, and though the company said it has plenty of inventory on hand several delays at the lab, including ones caused by the Thanksgiving holiday, are forcing LeafLine to close its Eagan location until Friday. In the meantime, its St. Paul facility will remain open.

"We sincerely apologize to our patients who are inconvenienced by any delays, but will never compromise on patient safety and program compliance," LeafLine CEO and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Andrew Bachman said in a statement Tuesday. "We are actively working to reschedule appointments."

Sensible Minnesota, for its part, says Leafline is doing all it can to meet their patients' needs, and wants changes in the future to prevent future supply chain problems.

"Going forward we would like to see expansion of cannabis producers, processors, and vendors, as well as additional delivery methods," the statement said. "Especially as we add new conditions to the program."

Minnesota Medical Solutions is the only other company sanctioned to sell medical cannabis in the state, with many advocates and patients hoping for more options in the future. Germann worries the formula at MMS may not be the same as LeafLine's, leaving her with a less effective treatment program.

Ultimately, she just hopes the issue gets sorted out soon--preferably before she is forced to seek other, more expensive or invasive measures.

"We only have two dispensaries we can go to," Germann said. "I just hope that I’m not going to have to go to the hospital to get the relief I need."