Quick! Can you think of any question that gets 90 percent of people answering on the same side?
There can't be many in this fractious society of ours. Some might just do it, though.
Is cancer bad? Is HIV/AIDS bad? How about Tourette's, Lou Gehrig's disease, or Crohn's?
Here's another one: If there were something people with those illnesses found that seemed to work for them, even in a small way, that would be a good thing, right?
A new survey from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) finds 90 percent of patients in Minnesota's medical marijuana program say it has provided some benefit to them, with only 10 percent reporting "little to no change" in their condition. Of those positive responses, 24 percent reported "mild to moderate" benefits, and a whopping 66 percent said they'd experienced "significant" improvements since starting to take the drug.
For some conditions, those figures are even more dramatic. Some 83 percent of HIV/AIDS patients surveyed rated the use of medical cannabis a 7 out of 7, signifying a "great deal of benefit." Among cancer patients, 55 percent gave the treatment a perfect score, and another 21 percent gave it a 6 out of 7.
Interestingly enough, in the case of both of those conditions, the doctors who had prescribed cannabis saw significantly less improvement in the patient's condition. Only 14 percent of doctors treating cancer patients reported a "great deal of benefit," while 29 percent treating HIV/AIDs patients gave the 7 out of 7 rating.
Also worth noting, just because: Among the side effects reported by patients was "feeling high." Well, yeah.
On another point, patients were far less satisfied with how expensive the drug is. Not one single patient, out of 435 surveyed, said the drug was "very affordable," and 55 percent rated the drug a 6 or 7 out of 7, for "very prohibitive" costs. Patients spend an average of $250 a month obtaining medical cannabis, though some have an outlay of $500.
A recent Rochester Post-Bulletin story told of a woman spending $300 a month out of her Social Security to buy marijuana for her husband's multiple sclerosis. (Pssst, Jody: That's way too much! We might know a guy who knows a guy.) The high costs are blamed on a low number of users, which can be blamed on the scaredy-cats that set up the medical marijuana law to begin with.
Minnesota's is still one of the nation's most restrictive sanctioned cannabis programs in the country, eligible only to people suffering from a handful of the most serious diseases, plus any illness deemed "terminal... with a probable life expectancy of less than one year." The number of patients eligible for treatment is expected to rise significantly after MDH Commissioner Ed Ehlinger's decision late last year to allow treatment of "intractable pain."
Through last Friday, just 1,442 Minnesotans had registered and qualified for the program. Compare that to Connecticut, which, with 3.5 million people, has 63 percent of Minnesota's population (5.5 million, estimated) ... but more than seven times as many patients using marijuana, at 10,705.
In other words, Minnesota's one-and-a-third times as big as Connecticut, and, when it comes to caring for our sickest residents, roughly one-seventh as chill.