A survey carried out by the Minnesota Department of Health of medical cannabis users in the state has revealed some interesting results.
Currently there are 559 health care practitioners, 1442 patients and 176 carers registered for the state’s program.
Of 435 patients who received surveys, 241 (55%) responded. Of the 345 health care practitioners (HCP) who certified the 435 patients, 94 (27.2%) completed surveys relating to 169 (39%) patients.
From the patients’ viewpoint, medical cannabis appears to be working well. On a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 indicating a great deal of benefit, 88% of the 238 complete patient surveys provided a score of 4 or more.
69% of the 142 complete HCP reports chose a score of 4 or greater for their patients.
The highest benefit levels reported appear to have been among cancer patients.
The report states many patients indicated the most important benefits were indirect; including improved quality of life, sleep, mobility, cognitive function or a reduced level of anxiety.
With regard to negative effects, these were reported in just 20% of patients and generally at a low level of intensity.
Where there does seem to be a significant negative impact isn’t in regard to the medication itself, but its cost.
Patients were asked to rate the cost of the medication they were using on a scale from 1, or very affordable, to 7, or very prohibitive. A total of 215 patients – 89% of all patient respondents – reported they found medical cannabis to be at least somewhat unaffordable.
The 107-page survey report makes for very interesting reading, but the Department stresses it’s just an “early look”.
“.. reports later in 2016 and early in 2017 will include both larger numbers of patients and broader sources of data, including patient reported changes in specific symptom severity scores over time,” it states.
Minnesota’s program was launched in 2014. In December last year, Minnesota’s Commissioner of Health added intractable pain as a qualifying condition; which joined a list of other conditions including HIV, glaucoma, cancer treatment effects and seizures.