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Minnesota Medical Marijuana Program Popular With Pain Patients

Since adding intractable pain as a qualifying condition, Minnesota’s medicinal cannabis program has seen an influx of new patients.

It’s been a long and painful road for these patients. Minnesota’s Commissioner of Health added intractable pain in 2015, but medicines weren’t made available until the beginning of last month.

According to the Duluth News Tribune, this new group has now become the second-largest in the state’s medical marijuana program, even though they became eligible just over one month ago.

By the end of August, 847 pain patients were registered – more than patients with cancer, epilepsy and terminal illnesses combined.

The relief doesn’t come cheap. The annual registration fee is $200, but there is a $150 reduction for disadvantaged patients. However, the price of a month’s supply of medical cannabis can range from less than USD $100 to well over $1,000; depending on the condition and other factors. There are no insurance companies in Minnesota currently that cover medical cannabis treatment. It appears that as a result of the cost, some patients are returning to buying cannabis on the black market.

Access is also an issue – medicines are only available from dispensaries at eight locations across Minnesota, run by just two companies.

Patients must also have their qualifying condition re-certified by a Minnesota licensed physician annually.

As at September 1, 2016, the total number approved enrollment (all conditions) currently active in the registry had reached 2,460. There were 676 health care practitioners registered and authorized to certify patients and 287 patient caregivers who had cleared their background checks and were approved in the registry.

The current list of qualifying conditions:

  • Cancer associated with severe/chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, or severe weakness or wasting.
  • Glaucoma.
  • Seizures, including those associated with epilepsy.
  • Tourette Syndrome.
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).
  • Severe and persistent muscle spasms (such as those associated with multiple sclerosis)
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease, including Crohn’s Disease.
  • Terminal illness, with a life expectancy of less than 12 months and only if the condition or treatment results in severe/chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, cachexia or severe wasting.
  • Intractable pain.

Other conditions are currently being considered by the Minnesota Department of Health.

Minnesota’s was the first state program to offer only smoke-free cannabis. Patients are not permitted to grow their own plants.

Further information on the program can be accessed here.

Terry Lassitenaz
Terry Lassitenaz writes exclusively for Hemp Gazette and has done so since the site launched in 2015. He has a special interest in the political arena relating to medical cannabis, particularly in Australia, and addressing the many myths surrounding this incredibly useful plant. You can contact Terry here.

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