Anthony Quintano

Hawaii Adds ALS to MMJ Program; Rejects Anxiety Disorders

The Hawaii Department of Health has added Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, to its medical cannabis qualifying condition list, making it the 20th state to add the condition.

In a press release, officials indicate the decision was based on review and analysis of written and oral testimony, a public hearing, and peer-reviewed scientific evidence; although the Health Department indicated that it “found little evidence to support the value of medical cannabis for ALS.”

“DOH determined medical cannabis may be appropriate for patients diagnosed with ALS after receiving a comprehensive assessment by a patient’s physician or [Advanced Practice Registered Nurse] and a risk-benefit discussion.”

The approval came during Hawaii’s annual review of potential conditions for medical cannabis access. There was also a request to add general anxiety disorder (GAD) to the regime; however, the health department declined the request because “there is inconclusive medical evidence that cannabis has beneficial use in the treatment or alleviation of symptoms of anxiety, social phobia, and social anxiety disorder (SAD), and no evidence specific to GAD.”

“In addition, because the prevalence of GAD, high rate of comorbidities, and dearth of scientific evidence to support the use of cannabis in the treatment of GAD, the potential for adverse outcomes is a public health concern.”

The 2018 deadline to petition the addition of qualifying conditions for Hawaii’s medical cannabis program is Feb. 19.


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