The Minnesota Department of Health has approved chronic pain and a degenerative eye condition as qualifying conditions for medical cannabis access, Minnesota Public Radio reports. The agency said it will allow more dispensaries to open under the program expansion, which will take effect in August.
Maren Schroeder, policy director for Sensible Change Minnesota, called the addition of chronic pain “the biggest steps the administration could take” toward making the state’s medical cannabis program “functioning.”
“This will give doctors a little more comfort in getting their pain patients into this program as well as helping those patients qualify,” Schroeder said in the report.
In a statement, Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said the decision to add chronic pain came from the “generally positive experience” by intractable pain patients and adding age-related macular degeneration “was due to a lack of good treatment options for managing symptoms.”
“Minnesota’s medical cannabis program tracks patient experiences so we can learn about the real-world benefits and downsides of using medical cannabis for various conditions.” – Malcolm, in a press release
The Health Department has issued several reports based on patient experiences, including a survey released in July that found 70 percent of post-traumatic stress disorder patients found symptom reduction when using medical cannabis and a report in April that found “significant reduction” in symptom severity for cancer patients.
The state’s program does not allow patients to smoke, relying on pills, topicals, and vaping; but it will allow water soluble delivery methods – such as gum, mints, lozenges, and powders – next year. According to state data, there are currently 18,144 active medical cannabis patients in Minnesota.
The move is the broadest expansion of the program; its last major change came in 2017 when autism and obstructive sleep apnea were added to the qualifying conditions list.
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