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PTSD is added to Minnesota's medical pot program as qualifying condition

By Paul Walsh | Star Tribune (Minneapolis) | Published: December 1, 2016

Minnesotans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) will be able to enroll in the state’s medical marijuana program starting Aug. 1, the state Health Department announced Thursday afternoon.

PTSD was the only new medical condition, among nine under consideration, added to the program in the latest round. It’s the first expansion of the medical cannabis program since pain patients were added earlier this year.

“This decision was made after careful deliberation of available evidence, consultation with experts in the field and public input,” state Health Commissioner Dr. Edward Ehlinger said in a statement. “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.”

Ehlinger added: “PTSD also has few effective treatment alternatives available for some patients with the condition.”

Conditions considered but rejected for inclusion in the medical cannabis program were: schizophrenia, phantom limb syndrome, arthritis, autism, depression, diabetes, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (various connective tissue disorders) and insomnia.

The Health Deparment also cleared the way for medical marijuana manufacturers to develop and provide topical applications of medical cannabis such as patches and creams.

Ehlinger said the research evidence suggests that patches, lotions, creams, gels and ointments could offer an effective and low-risk method for administering doses.

The National Institute of Mental Health defines PTSD as a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary or dangerous event. Military personnel exposed to battle are among those prone to PTSD.

The Legislature authorized the creation of a medical cannabis program in 2014.

Patients need certification from a Minnesota health care provider before receiving medical marijuana.

PTSD will join these qualifying conditions: cancer associated with severe/chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting or cachexia or severe wasting; glaucoma; HIV/AIDS; Tourette 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.

©2016 the Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
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Medicinal marijuana buds are made available for patients at a medical marijuana dispensary in Long Beach, California on March 21, 2012.
Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times/MCT

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