Medical Cannabis Benefiting Minnesota PTSD Patients

PTSD and medical cannabis
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A recent survey by the Minnesota Department of Health Office of Medical Cannabis indicates more than three-quarters of patients using medical cannabis for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have experienced significant benefits.

The survey of 751 PTSD patients found 76% of those who responded indicated a benefit rating of 6 or 7 on a scale of 1 to 7 – so that’s pretty impressive. Only 4% gave a rating of 1, 2 or 3. The most important benefits noted were anxiety reduction (23%), improved sleep (16%), improved mood and/or emotional regulation (13%) and reduction in pain (12%).

“It is particularly encouraging to read comments from some patients that their participation in the program has made their engagement with other therapies for PTSD more feasible or more effective,” said  Dr. Tom Arneson, a research manager with the MDH Office of Medical Cannabis.

Importantly, no serious adverse events were reported for the group of patients during the observation period; however, around 20% reported side effects. The vast majority of all reported adverse effects were mild or moderate in severity. Most commonly reported were  dry mouth, increased appetite, drowsiness and fatigue. 1.7% reported increased anxiety and in 8 of those 12 patients, the anxiety was rated as severe.

A majority had at least moderate levels of anxiety (96%), disturbed sleep (91%), depression (84%), fatigue (84%), pain (69%), and poor appetite (60%) when enrolling in the program. 96% scored above 33 points on the PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5). Of those who completed the same checklist three months after their initial purchase of cannabis, 71% saw their scores improve by at least 10 points.

Minnesota became the twenty-second U.S state to create a medical cannabis program, which occurred in 2014. Post-traumatic stress disorder was added to the list of qualifying conditions for the state’s program in 2017.

The report draws on the experiences of patients newly enrolled in the program for PTSD during the first five months after it was added as a qualifying condition. A comprehensive survey report can be viewed here.

Previous reports from the MDH indicate the state’s pain and cancer patients have also been experiencing benefits from the use of medicinal cannabis.