Minnesota’s medical marijuana program added on Friday ‘Intractable Pain’ as one of the qualifying conditions to receive medical cannabis treatment in the state. The measure has been adopted during the first year of legal medical marijuana sales in Minnesota.

Intractable Pain has been added on Friday to the list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis program by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).

Minnesota’s cannabis patient centers dispense medical cannabis products in pills or liquid forms. Credit: Earthmed

The state’s eight cannabis patient centers are scheduled to be open by July 1. Those are the places where individuals can go to get medical marijuana next to get enrolled in Minnesota’s medical marijuana program.

Minnesota’s  residents with Intractable Pain can start the process to be eligible for the program and start receiving medical cannabis at patient cannabis centers on August 1.

Intractable pain as a qualifying condition of Minnesota’s cannabis program

Intractable Pain (IP), also known as Intractable Pain disease is a constant pain state that can not be cured. The condition is usually treated with opioids or interventional procedures. When the disease is not treated at all, it can lead to house-bound state or early death.

Former studies have proved that many painful conditions are causing intractable pain disease: Degenerative Disk Disease, Failed back Syndrome, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Central Pain Syndrome, among others. However, not every patient presenting any of these conditions will develop for sure intractable pain. Individual and family medical history play a role in the development of the disease.

Although there is no cure for Intractable Pain, there are some treatments and medications helpful while improving patient’s quality of life. IP treatments and medications aim to alleviate the pain and also to minimize or reverse, in some cases, the neurological, endocrine, and cardiac effects. Physicians will prescribe IP treatments depending on the cause of the pain and on the patient’s health and preference. As it was stated above, opioids are commonly used in IP procedures; such is the case of medical marijuana. Results of IP treatments could vary depending on the condition of patients.

In the event of patients suffering from IP have not shown favorable results or the side effects have been intolerable, they are perfectly eligible to enroll in Minnesota’s program for Intractable Pain. The MDH Office of Medical Cannabis trusts the professional judgment of Minnesota’s health care providers about previous treatments tried on IP patients without adequate results.

During the first anniversary of medical cannabis availability in Minnesota, the MDH has not received any cases of severe adverse health events associated with the use of medical cannabis.

“July 1st marks the start of intractable pain registration and the anniversary of the availability of medical cannabis in Minnesota. During this first year, Minnesota has succeeded at setting up a medically focused program that provides consistent and quality-controlled cannabis products to patients. According to our early surveys, about 90 percent of Minnesota patients reported some level of benefit,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger concerted with the addition of IP in the qualifying conditions list of Minnesota’s cannabis program.

It is expected that Intractable Pain Patients join the program to start treatments with medical marijuana. So far, MDH does not have an amount of patients suffering from the condition in the state.

Minnesota’s cannabis program

The Minnesota’s cannabis program allows patients to receive medical cannabis. Only Minnesota’s residents who suffer from qualifying diseases for the cannabis’ programs can be enrolled. It is legally required that Minnesota’s health care practitioners certify one or more of the qualifying conditions in each patient. When referring to Minnesota’s medical professionals, it means that it could be a Minnesota-licensed doctor of medicine, a Minnesota-licensed physician assistant (PA) authorized to practice, or a Minnesota-licensed advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) acting as a primary care provider of the patient’s qualifying medical condition.

To enroll in the cannabis program, patients must fulfill certain conditions. Firstly, they must be legal Minnesota residents. Then, a Minnesota’s health care provider must attest the patient is suffering from any of the qualifying conditions to be eligible in the system and receive medical cannabis in Minnesota. Patients also have the option of participating in medical cannabis clinical trials to enroll in the program.

Among the nine qualifying health conditions for the Minnesota’s cannabis program, it is found cancer with chronic pain, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, epileptic seizures and terminal illnesses with a probable life expectancy of less than one year. It has been recently added intractable pain to the list of qualifying conditions, which means that patients with their qualifying condition certificate can purchase medical cannabis products in any of the eight cannabis patient centers across Minnesota.

In those groups of patients to whom has been proved that medical cannabis use can represent a risk, health care practitioners will carry out special medical scrutiny before prescribing medical marijuana. These groups include pregnant women, nursing mothers, infants and children, and individuals with a personal or family history of psychosis.

Once patients get enrolled in the program, they must pay an annual registration fee to be able to purchase medical cannabis.

Source: CBS Local Minnesota