The Minnesota Capitol Building in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Animesh Kumar

Autism & Sleep Apnea Added to Minnesota MMJ Program

Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Ed Ehlinger, has approved autism spectrum disorder and obstructive sleep apnea to the state’s medical cannabis qualifying condition list – two of 10 conditions proposed to the Department of Health for program consideration.

What was rejected? Anxiety disorders, cortico-basal degeneration, dementia, endogenous cannabinoid deficiency syndrome, liver disease, nausea, Parkinson’s disease, and peripheral neuropathy. The department also rejected adding vaporization, smoking, and edibles as approved delivery methods.

“Any policy decisions about cannabis are difficult due to the relative lack of published scientific evidence. However, there is increasing evidence for potential benefits of medical cannabis for those with severe autism and obstructive sleep apnea.” – Health Commissioner Ehlinger.

Patients certified for the program due to autism must meet the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – 5th edition requirements for autism. Individuals with sleep apnea “must meet published diagnostic criteria for the condition, according to a press release from the Health Department.

The Health Department completed research briefs for both conditions prior to approving them for the program. The review panel’s autism brief noted the lack of effective drug treatments for the condition and their potentially severe side effects. The sleep apnea brief cites a 2017 study published in Sleep that found dronabinol (synthetic THC) was an effective treatment for the condition.

Newly eligible patients will be able to enroll in the program beginning July 1 and able to receive cannabis from the state’s two medical cannabis providers beginning Aug. 1.  

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