DULUTH – The area’s first medical marijuana dispensary has opened in Hermantown amid a statewide expansion of medical cannabis patient centers.
“It makes a lot of sense to have a medical cannabis dispensary there, in a major population center,” said Dr. Kyle Kingsley, CEO of Vireo Health, one of two state-authorized medical marijuana producers and distributors.
The company’s Green Goods dispensary is just off Miller Trunk Hwy. near the airport. Previously the closest location was a LeafLine Labs dispensary in Hibbing, about 70 miles north.
The number of patients in northeastern Minnesota has grown 60% since the start of the year to more than 1,600, according to state figures, which Kingsley attributes partly to last year’s announcement that a dispensary would be opening in the Duluth area.
“It’s a synergy — once you start announcing you are opening a dispensary you get more interest in the program,” he said. “It will be much more convenient to go to Hermantown.”
There will eventually be 16 dispensaries statewide, double the number originally authorized for the state’s five-year-old program. State legislators signed off on the change last year.
Vireo Health, formerly known as Minnesota Medical Solutions, is also poised to open locations in Blaine and Burnsville by the end of the year and Woodbury by the end of January. The company already had locations in Minneapolis, Bloomington, Rochester and Moorhead.
LeafLine Labs, which has dispensaries in St. Cloud, Eagan, Hibbing and St. Paul, recently opened its newest location in Willmar. Other new locations in Mankato, Golden Valley and Rogers have been delayed by “significant challenges” brought on by the pandemic.
“LeafLine Labs is committed to opening additional locations and improving access to more Minnesotans statewide,” CEO Bill Parker said in a statement. “COVID-19 has slowed our expansion progress down but it has not