Medical cannabis maker sues Minnesota, alleges ‘irrational discrimination’ over THC edibles

In the wake of THC edibles being made legal by the Minnesota Legislature last session, one manufacturer in the state’s medical cannabis program has filed a lawsuit claiming it's being unfairly subjected to regulations that others aren’t – for the exact same products.

Vireo Health of Minnesota, LLC, has filed a lawsuit against numerous state agencies and officials - including attorney general Keith Ellison and commissioner of the Department of Health Jan Malcolm - alleging that the new laws "unconstitutionally discriminate against Vireo in the market for edible products that contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)."

In the complaint, Vireo alleges its operations and sales are, "heavily regulated and must comply with stringent testing, reporting, security, and eligibility requirements." Stipulations include Vireo can only sell its medical cannabis products to patients with qualifying medical conditions who are registered in the state’s medical cannabis registry – compliance for which is regulated by the Office of Medical Cannabis.

According to its site, Vireo is, "a physician-founded, patient-focused company dedicated to providing best-in-class cannabis-based products and unrivaled care." The company is one of two that are legally authorized to distribute medical cannabis in Minnesota.

Due to the law change, made effective on July 1, entities unlicensed by the Office of Medical Cannabis are allowed to sell THC-infused edibles that are chemically identical to Vireo’s without having to follow the same strict legal and regulatory requirements. Allowed in 5-milligram doses, the hemp-derived edibles that were legalized are chemically identical to the medical cannabis-derived edibles sold by Vireo.

FOX 9 previously covered the sales growth seen by numerous shops throughout the Twin Cities after the law change which was announced to the surprise of some politicians. Locally, counties and cities have been left to craft their own legislation to regulate sales. 

According to the complaint, "there is no rational basis to create separate legal requirements for sellers of medical cannabis-derived edibles, like Vireo, and sellers of hemp-derived edibles. Medical cannabis and hemp are the same plant species.

Without any rational basis, Minnesota law treats medical cannabis-derived edibles very differently from identical hemp-derived edibles… The irrational discrimination against Vireo violates the Minnesota constitution."

Vireo also contests that without further regulation, "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."

The company hopes that through the lawsuit it will be able to also sell over-the-counter edibles, along with its medical products.