Medical marijuana programs vary greatly from state to state in multiple aspects – including which conditions are allowed to be treated with medical marijuana and what forms of the plant patients are legally allowed to use. For Minnesota, the number of conditions that qualify for medical marijuana (with the recommendation of a physician, of course) is relatively small, only ten conditions in total with the most recent addition of intractable pain, which was added earlier this year.
Now that their program is over a year old, however, there have been numerous petitions to add additional qualifying conditions to the list of what can be treated with medical marijuana. Unfortunately, out of nine different conditions being considered, including autism, depression, diabetes, insomnia, arthritis, and more, only one of them made the cut – and that was Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Health Department Commissioner Ed Ehlinger said that “PTSD was the only one that really came close to meeting my threshold.” He said, “There’s widespread agreement among medical experts on the need for improving existing PTSD treatments.”
Basically, Minnesota is still being extremely conservative when it comes to who may benefit from medical marijuana – as well as what forms it can take. However, adding PTSD to the list of qualifying treatments will likely open up the possibility to hundreds and maybe thousands more individuals who did not have this option before. When intractable pain was added to the list of qualifying conditions there were over 500 people who got recommendations from their doctor before the law even reflected the change – and we will likely see the same sort of influx of new patients with this latest change.
“This decision was made after careful deliberation of available evidence, consultation with experts in the field and public input,” Ehlinger said Thursday. “While the process of reviewing these potential additions was difficult due to the relative lack of published scientific evidence, PTSD presented the strongest case for potential benefits. PTSD also has few effective treatment alternatives available for some patients with the condition.”
Currently, the state has less than 5,000 registered medical marijuana patients – and the price of the medicine has not significantly dropped since the start of the program (which had it sitting well above the black-market value of marijuana in the state). However, adding PTSD – as well as allowing new forms of medical marijuana products like topical creams, lotions and patches – will hopefully help to bring down the price for patients and make the medicine accessible to more of those who need it.