Minnesota approves medical cannabis for chronic pain, eye condition


Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Broad expansion of Minnesota’s list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis has been authorized by State Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm. As per the expansion, two new conditions have been added to the list – chronic pain and age-related macular degeneration. 

Of all the qualifying conditions for medical cannabis in Minnesota, intractable pain is the most commonly diagnosed. Age-related macular degeneration – another common condition in adults – is diagnosed as progressive deterioration of the retina, which may cause irreversible loss of sight if not treated.

“The bottom line is that people suffering from these serious conditions may be helped by participating in the program, and we felt it was important to give them the opportunity to seek that relief,” said Malcolm.

Furthermore, a handful of new stores are set to open in Minnesota, where medical cannabis patients will be indulged with a diversified range of new formulations in 2020.

By October 2019, the number of medical cannabis patients in Minnesota rested at around 18,000. With the addition of these new qualifying conditions, officials feel confident that program enrolment will steadily climb. 

Storefronts selling medical cannabis in Minnesota will double next year

Recent reports told of three Minnesotans that lost their lives due to the vape-lung crisis that erupted across much of the U.S. mid-year. State health investigators are now ramping up efforts to deter cannabis consumers from the black market in Minnesota.

At the end of November, 125 confirmed/probable cases had been reported across the state. In spite of the fact that two of the victims were enrolled in Minnesota’s medical cannabis program, officials claim that illegal substances were also being used by both people. 

The list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis in Minnesota have been expanded to – Malcolm says – help combat the vape-lung crisis by providing consumers with alternative methods of consumption. 

By next year, patients enrolled in Minnesota’s medical cannabis program will be able to obtain water-soluble and dissolvable cannabinoid products, such as sprinkles and powders. At the current time, two licensed distributors in Minnesota can provide certified patients with cannabis; available in pill or inhaled form. 

LeafLine Labs – one of the main manufacturers serving Minnesota’s medical cannabis market – intends on opening new stores in Golden Valley, Rogers, Mankato and Willmar. Additionally, Minnesota Medical Solutions will expand storefronts across, Blaine, Burnsville, Duluth and Woodbury.

Petitions to increase list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis in Minnesota rejected 

Minnesota’s medical cannabis program went into effect back in 2015. It was in May of the previous year that Governor Mark Dayton signed a bill into law allowing the plant as a treatment for ALS, cancer, Crohn’s Disease, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS and Tourette’s syndrome.

A request was recently put forward to add more conditions – including anxiety, insomnia, psoriasis and traumatic brain injury – to the list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis in Minnesota. However, the request was denied by Malcolm, who said that there is a lack of evidence supporting the benefits of using cannabis as a treatment. 

Chronic pain – one of the latest additions to the list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis in Minnesota – is a more comprehensive category than intractable pain disease (IPD). IPD is a form of pain that is persistent and intermittent; health care practitioners in Minnesota began certifying patients with IPD back in 2016.

Minnesota’s medical cannabis program is said to be the country’s most restrictive, due to the limitations in medical cannabis product options and the state’s small list of qualifying conditions.