Discussing Change to MN Medical Cannabis Program

Should 'Intractable Pain' Become Eligible Condition for Medical Marijuana?

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In 2014, Minnesota became the 22nd state with a medical cannabis program.

Now, the Department of Health is considering changes to that program, and is traveling across the state seeking citizen feedback.

Wednesday night they stopped in Hibbing.

Right now in Minnesota you have to have a condition that qualifies you to get medical marijuana.

There are nine conditions – Cancer, Glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Tourette Syndrome, ALS, Epilepsy, Multiple Sclerosis, Crohn’s Disease, and a terminal illness with a life expectancy of less than one year.

Now the Minnesota Department of Health is considering adding a tenth condition – intractable pain.

This is pain that is not tied to an illness or disease. Rather, pain that is persistent and resistant to treatment, pain that has continued despite other medical options being tried.

The Department of Health explained how the medical cannabis program in Minnesota is different than in many other states.

“You can’t use the cannabis leaf in the programs, there’s no plant material that’s involved. All of the product is either a pill, a liquid, or a tincture, so it’s very similar to pharmaceuticals that you would use on any other medical setting,” explained Scott Smith, a Public Information Officer with the Minnesota Department of Health.

A Hibbing resident living with ALS was at Wednesday’s meeting, speaking in favor of medical marijuana and describing how it has helped him get by day by day.

“With this disease I have, I get a lot of muscle cramps and they just come out of nowhere, just doing things,” explained Glenn Erickson, diagnosed with ALS over a year ago. “And I take what they made into drops, I take a few drops of them and right there, cramps disappear.”

Something Erickson wishes was different – the cost.

Right now he’s paying $80 for a week’s supply of the medical cannabis.

The Minnesota Department of Health is halfway through a total of 11 meetings across the state.

Smith says, so far, the majority of people who have been attending these meetings have supported adding intractable pain to the program.

The Commissioner of Health has until the end of the year to decide whether to do so or not.

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