Chronic Pain To Be Added To Iowa’s Medical Cannabidiol Program

Medical cannabidiol - Iowa
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Iowa’s Medical Cannabidiol Advisory Board has reportedly approved chronic pain as an additional qualifying condition for the state’s medical cannabidiol program. Well, sort of additional.

As the program’s name suggests, Iowa’s focuses on medicines containing cannabidiol (CBD), with THC levels restricted to no more than 3%. Medicines can be administered in oral, topical, nebulized, suppository or vaporized forms – but smoking of products is not permitted.

Iowa has a shorter list of qualifying conditions compared to some other U.S states, but it does include “untreatable pain”. This is defined as pain that cannot be adequately controlled using conventional pain management treatments, or where treatments are accompanied by intolerable side effects.

This entry is to be removed and replaced with chronic pain reports the Des Moines Register, so it will be interesting to see how the definition changes. Chronic pain is usually described as pain continuing beyond the time expected for a condition or injury to heal. So, it’s possible to have untreatable pain – but it may not be chronic. Whether the Iowa definition will reflect that remains to be seen.

Anyone may file a petition to add medical conditions with the Medical Cannabidiol Advisory Board. While chronic pain made it over the line in this round, anxiety disorder as well as opioid dependence didn’t. A decision on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has been deferred until the Board’s November meeting says the Register.

Iowa’s program was once far more restrictive, covering only intractable epilepsy. It wasn’t until 2017 when then-Governor Terry Branstad signed House File 524 into law, expanding the program to cover 15 conditions including Crohn’s disease, AIDS or HIV, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s disease and any terminal illness where life expectancy is less than 12 months – and only under certain conditions.

The state’s first dispensaries didn’t open until December last year.

Iowa Cannabidiol Program Statistics

Recent statistics published by Iowa Department of Health indicate there were 3,261 active, registered patients in the state as at the beginning of this month – an increase of around 300 since the beginning of July. The total number translates to around one-tenth of one percent of the state’s population being cardholders at this point.

The majority of registered patients (64%) are accessing medical cannabis to manage untreatable pain. The highest concentration of cardholders was in Polk County (707).

As at the beginning of August, there were 797 physicians in Iowa who had certified a patient, up from 775 at the beginning of July.