The Minnesota Department of Health will add chronic pain and age-related macular degeneration as new qualifying conditions for the state’s medical cannabis program. Under state law, the new conditions will take effect in August 2020.

MDH also approved two new delivery methods to give patients more options. The new methods being added are water-soluble cannabinoid multi-particulates (for example, granules, powders and sprinkles) and orally dissolvable products such as lozenges, gums, mints, buccal tablets and sublingual tablets.

The program’s two medical cannabis manufacturers will double the number of patient cannabis treatment centers in accordance with legislation passed during the 2019 Minnesota Legislative Session.

Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm said the changes give patients more options, particularly in light of concerns about potential health impacts of e-cigarettes and vaping.

“We hope the addition of new delivery methods will provide a potential alternative to vaping for some patients and that the additional centers will provide more convenient access,” Commissioner Malcolm said.

Commissioner Malcolm explained that the two new qualifying conditions were added to allow patients more treatment options for conditions that can be debilitating.

“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,” Commissioner Malcolm said.

Adding chronic pain will allow patients with pain to more easily access medical cannabis as an earlier treatment option. In 2016, MDH added intractable pain to the program. 

In addition to the newly approved conditions, MDH received petitions for four other conditions: anxiety, insomnia, psoriasis and traumatic brain injury. The petitions were rejected because the conditions had been petitioned previously and this year’s petitions did not include new scientific evidence.

Under current state rules, patients certified to chronic pain or age-related macular degeneration will become eligible to enroll in the program on July 1, 2020, and receive medical cannabis from the state’s two medical cannabis manufacturers beginning Aug. 1, 2020. As with other qualifying conditions, patients will need advance certification from a Minnesota health care provider. More details on the process are available on the Medical Cannabis website.

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