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A Look Inside One of Minn.'s Medical Marijuana Growing Facilities

KSTP TV - It's growing season in Minnesota -- but we're not talking about your traditional spring gardening.

The buds are in full bloom at Minnesota Medical Solutions Medical Marijuana Growing Facility in Otsego.

They've been growing in a hidden facility since December to prepare for the July 1 deadline when dispensaries are set to open.

Dr. Kyle Kingsley heads up the newly-budding business. At the growing facility, plants are transformed into the state's three legal forms for use: pill, liquid and oil.

The medications created from the plants are designed to treat seven, state-approved conditions, including cancer and epilepsy.

"Different patients have different needs, and there are a lot of compounds in cannabis that are helpful to patients, so we want to specifically make these medications for specific patients," Kingsley said.

"Since the bill has passed, two children from our original group have lost their lives to epilepsy," one mother, Kim Kelsey, said.

Kelsey caught her first look at the facility Tuesday after spending months at the Capitol fighting for the law to pass.

Her son, Alec, has been living with epilepsy for 19 years.

"He takes 36 pills a day," Kelsey said. "He's on six medications for his epilepsy."

However, she says she now feels hope that a different solution could help her son and the currently unknown number of other Minnesotans looking for another option.

"Between 10 and 10,000 is our thought on patient numbers," Kingsley said.

Once the dispensaries open, Minnesota Medical Solutions will adjust to demand based on patient needs.

After touring the MinnMed facility, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS also checked in with the Medical Director for Leafline Labs to see how he is preparing for that July 1 deadline.

"We have a 42,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility that is being built for one purpose," Leafline Labs Director Dr. Andrew Bachman said. "That is to grow this plant and to grow it exceptionally well in a safe and appropriate way that will allow us to be an industry leader not just in Minnesota but for the nation."

The two leaders of these companies actually have a bit of history together and come from similar backgrounds in medicine.

Both Kingsley and Bachman worked together while enrolled in the Emergency Medicine program at Hennepin County Medical Center. They reconnected after learning they both had applied to run the two growing facilities allowed by the state. The Department of Health has coined a new phrase for their relationship, calling it "coopitition," a combination of cooperation and, of course, a little friendly competition.