Minnesota green-lights medical marijuana for autism, sleep apnea

Last year it was PTSD. This year we'll add autism and sleep apnea.

Last year it was PTSD. This year we'll add autism and sleep apnea. Minnesota Medical Solutions

Minnesota's cautiously restrictive list of medical conditions allowing use of medical marijuana just got a little longer.

Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger announced Thursday that by next August, Minnesotans with autism spectrum disorders and obstructive sleep apnea will be allowed to purchase the made-in-Minnesota pain reliever.

Each year, the health department solicits suggestions from the public about new conditions to add. Throughout June and July, people submitted  ideas and shared their stories of why they believed medical marijuana could help them. Health department staff then prepares research summaries for each condition.

“Any policy decisions about cannabis are difficult due to the relative lack of published scientific evidence,” said Commissioner Ehlinger. “However, there is increasing evidence for potential benefits of medical cannabis for those with severe autism and obstructive sleep apnea.”

Petitioners proposed eight other conditions this year that weren't accepted, including anxiety disorders, dementia, Parkinson's disease, and liver disease.

Members of the public also appealed for the legalization of different forms of medical marijuana, such as edibles and smokable cannabis flowers. Those requests were denied, so Minnesota's dispensaries will continue to sell only marijuana pills and oils.

The list of current qualifying conditions includes:

Cancer associated with severe/chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, or cachexia or severe wasting
Tourette’s syndrome
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
Seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy
Severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis
Inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease
Terminal illness, with a probable life expectancy of less than one year
Intractable pain
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Autism spectrum disorders (enrollment opens July 1, 2018)
Obstructive sleep apnea (enrollment opens July 1, 2018)