- Associated Press - Monday, December 1, 2014
Medical marijuana producers set; questions remain

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Two Twin Cities-area companies will grow and distribute marijuana for Minnesota’s medical cannabis program, state officials announced Monday, filling in just one of many blanks as the state gears up to provide the newly legalized treatment.

The Minnesota Department of Health chose Minnesota Medical Solutions, or MinnMed, and LeafLine Labs from a field of 12 applicants, ending a weekslong selection process. Both companies are led by local physicians but will collaborate with organizations involved with medical marijuana in other states. LeafLine Labs has strong connections with the Bachman floral family - several members are co-owners.

Now, a seven-month sprint begins for the providers to get their growing facilities up and running, nail down distribution systems and register patients in time to deliver medication to Minnesotans starting July 1.

“There certainly is plenty of work ahead before we see medical cannabis products available in Minnesota,” Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger said.

But many questions remain. Among them:

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Researchers present final report on taconite risks

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A final report to the Legislature on a six-year, $4.9 million University of Minnesota study says the state’s taconite workers face higher risks from a rare form of lung cancer called mesothelioma the longer they’ve worked in the industry or if they’ve had above-average exposures to certain kinds of dust.

The study assessed the risks to taconite workers from exposure to tiny, needle-like fibers called elongate mineral particles, or EMPs. Mesothelioma, a usually fatal cancer of the lung lining, is generally caused by exposure to airborne asbestos fibers.

Lawmakers commissioned the study after a spike in the cancer was found on the Iron Range in 2006. Researchers planned to present the final report at a community meeting in Hibbing on Monday.

Many of the key conclusions from the study were in a preliminary report in April 2013, including that taconite workers had triple the death rate from mesothelioma than ordinary Minnesota residents. Taconite workers also died at higher rates from more common kinds of lung cancer and heart disease at higher rates, they found.

The final report adds a closer look at the role of EMP exposure levels in taconite workers’ risks of mesothelioma as well as the role these exposures might play in other diseases, principal investigator Jeffrey Mandel said.

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Bud Grant Way becomes a Minneapolis street

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Bud Grant Way is now a formally recognized street in Minneapolis, just to the south of the under-construction Minnesota Vikings stadium.

The sign was posted at a ceremony Monday featuring Grant, the former Vikings coach who guided the team to four Super Bowls and Pro Football Hall of Fame member. Grant was joined by dozens of his family members, city officials, Vikings executives and former players.

The street in his name is a one-block section of 9th Avenue, between 6th and 7th streets. This was known as Carew Drive while the Metrodome was there, in honor of former Minnesota Twins star Rod Carew. With the baseball team now playing at Target Field, Carew Drive was moved to the west edge of downtown.

The new Vikings stadium will open in 2016.

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Police: 3 dead of drug ODs in Duluth area

DULUTH, Minn. (AP) - Police in the Duluth area say three people recently have died of drug overdoses.

Police in Duluth and nearby Hermantown said Monday that the three died of overdosing on opioids in the past 48 hours.

Doctors prescribe opioids for a range of ailments, from post-surgical pain to arthritis and migraines.

In a news release, police say they are concerned about opioid users and warn that the content and purity of the drugs is often unknown and can lead to a fatal overdose.

Police are investigating the deaths. No other details were released.


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