ST. PAUL (AP) -- Minnesota's two medical marijuana providers lost a combined $2.4 million in 2018, continuing the losses that have marked the state's program since it began.

But top executives of both companies say they see a reason for optimism. They point to changes approved in the recent legislative session that will make it easier for them to do business.

Leafline Labs and Minnesota Medical Solutions can now write off their business expenses, buy hemp from local farmers and open four new dispensaries apiece.

While the changes will aid the manufacturers, the executives say they may have little effect on the price patients pay.

Only patients with one of 13 severe conditions can use the drugs, which can cost hundreds of dollars per month and aren't covered by insurance.