The past two decades has seen dramatic changes to the world of medical cannabis. Not only in the acceptance of the plant as a medicine, but the number of people who have access to this alternative and our understanding of how it works with our bodies. As research has developed, the list of qualifying conditions for getting a medical marijuana card has expanded within medical programs because science continues to prove marijuana’s value as medicine.
Recently, Minnesota’s Department of Health added two new qualifying conditions for medical cannabis: sickle cell disease and vocal or motor tick disorders.
The Minnesota Expands List of Qualifying Conditions
Since the state legalized medical marijuana in 2014 the Minnesota Department of Health has been tasked with determining what conditions get added to the list. Over the summer the DOH accepted submissions, or petitions, from the public for potential qualifying conditions. From there, suggested conditions were given a public comment period and a review panel.
This year, they have chosen to add sickle cell disease as well as those with vocal or motor tick disorders to the list. Those suffering from either of these conditions will be able to enroll in the state’s medical marijuana program after July 1, 2021. But they won’t be able to access their medical marijuana for another 30 days, on August 1st.
Anxiety Is Being Considered but the DOH is Concerned
Another condition got a lot of attention when it came to petitions and public comment, but the DOH wasn’t ready to add it to the list. Anxiety, Health commissioner Jan Malcom says is a broad term.
“We want to dig into specific anxiety disorders more and move forward carefully,” Malcom said, according to Bring Me the News.
The DOH’s concern, Malcom says, is that they want to avoid unintended consequences. Usually, when state officials say this it is referring to creating a pathway to potential abuse of the program for recreational use. Instead, they cited that there is evidence that cannabis use can contribute to anxiety and make it worse for some people. However, they acknowledged the public urgency and do plan to review adding anxiety to the list of qualifying conditions in the future.
“We recognize that this is the third time anxiety has been petitioned for the medical cannabis program, and we thank everyone for their thoughtful comments in support of the petition.”
Anxiety is one of the most common qualifying conditions our patients cite when speaking with a Leafwell physician on our telemedicine platform. It’s not only in Minnesota where people are seeking to use marijuana to soothe their anxieties.
What Are the Qualifying Conditions for MMJ in Minnesota?
Some states’ list of qualifying conditions is more broad than others and Minnesota’s has been consistently growing theirs since legalizing medical cannabis. It appears that the state’s Department of Health is truly focused on the wellbeing of the public and wants to bring access to those who can benefit from it.
With these two most recent additions, the full list of qualifying conditions in Minnesota includes:
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Cancer associated with severe/chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, or cachexia or severe wasting syndrome
- Chronic motor or vocal tic disorder (effective Aug. 2021)
- Chronic pain
- Inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease
- Intractable pain
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy
- Severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis
- Sickle Cell Disease (effective Aug. 2021)
- Terminal illness, with a probable life expectancy of less than one year
- Tourette Syndrome
This list comes directly from the Minnesota Department of Health to ensure accuracy and Leafwell will keep it updated to ensure the most accurate information is provided.
There are currently around 25,000 patients registered to the Minnesota Medical Cannabis program. Recent additions to the qualifying conditions will increase these numbers, but adding anxiety to the list is likely to bring a wave of new patients who have been asking for access since the program’s inception.
Currently, more than 60 percent of Minnesota’s medical marijuana patients say they use the plant for intractable pain. Chronic pain and anxiety are two of the most cited uses of medical marijuana across the United States.
While the Department of Health appears to have good interests behind holding back on adding the mental health condition to the list, hopefully patients in the state won’t be waiting much longer than they already have. Leafwell will keep you informed on the latest in medical marijuana law in Minnesota as the states program continues to grow.