Minnesota expanded its budding medical marijuana program.
By a baby step. On Thursday, the state approved the addition of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying condition.
Health Department Commissioner Ed Ehlinger made the announcement exactly one year after Minnesota recognized the use of cannabis to treat intractable pain. Before that, the state's uniquely restrictive medical marijuana program had difficulty building enrollment, causing the price of medicinal pot to remain prohibitively high -- higher even than street pot.
Minnesota now has 4,399 registered patients. Nearly one-fourth are inactive.
“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.”
Eight other medical conditions -- phantom limb pain, arthritis, autism, depression, diabetes, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, insomnia, and schizophrenia -- were reviewed this year, but rejected.
Individuals had to nominate new conditions before August 1. A team of seven doctors and pharmacists met throughout the past few months to review petitions, read studies on the effects of THC and CBD on those conditions, and hear public comments.
They found that because endocannabinoid research is so new, very little has been published on its medical uses. National medical organizations have no advice to offer.
While there's some evidence that cannabis could delay diabetes in mice, and that THC may actually aggravate psychotic disorders like schizophrenia, there simply aren't any studies on how marijuana can affect phantom limb pain, and only one published case study for the therapeutic benefits of cannabis for autism.
Here's an list of all the conditions that now qualify for medical cannabis in Minnesota:
1. Cancer associated with severe/chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, or cachexia or severe wasting
4. Tourette Syndrome
5. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
6. Seizures, including those characteristic of Epilepsy
7. Severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of Multiple Sclerosis
8. Inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease
9. Terminal illness, with a probable life expectancy of less than one year
10. Intractable pain
11. Post-traumatic stress disorder