Minnesota Medical Marijuana And Pain Patients

Minnesota medical marijuana program
Cannabis Image: BigStock

A Minnesota Department of Health appointed panel has rejected the idea of allowing those suffering intractable pain to benefit from medicinal cannabis. However, all is not lost.

The use of medical-cannabis for the treatment of certain conditions has been legal in Minnesota since last year. However, the only qualifying conditions are

  • Cancer associated with severe/chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, or cachexia or severe wasting.
  • Glaucoma.
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Tourette Syndrome
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).
  • Seizures
  • Severe and persistent muscle spasms
  • Crohn’s Disease.
  • Terminal illness (life expectancy < 1 year)

There has been a call in the state for those suffering intractable pain to also used medical marijuana for relief, so MDH’s Office of Medical Cannabis (OMC) appointed an eight-member panel to examine the possibility. Among its activities, the panel had the University of Minnesota conduct a review of the medical literature and evidence related to using cannabis for treating chronic pain.

After four meetings on the topic which included testimony from pain patients, three members of the panel were in favour, 5 were not; but both groups had stipulations they want considered if the state goes ahead with permitting it and have requested further in-depth research be carried out.

Although the door has not closed entirely on Minnesota pain patients being permitted medicinal cannabis, that’s little comfort to those who are suffering now and who have exhausted other options as the Panel’s recommendations, if observed, will extend the process.

The Panel Recommendations on adding intractable pain as a qualifying condition for the Minnesota Medical Cannabis Program can be viewed here (PDF). Minnesota’s Health Commissioner, Dr. Ed Ehlinger, is holding a meeting on November 10 to gather public comment about recommendations from the Advisory Panel.

Medical cannabis in Minnesota is not supplied through pharmacies or via prescription; patients must register with the state and receive cannabis from one of eight dispensaries. The medicinal marijuana  is provided to patients as a liquid, pill, or vaporized delivery method. In addition to paying for the cannabis, patients must also pay a USD$200 annual fee.

Further details on the state’s cannabis program can be viewed here.