Minnesotans will have to wait until 2016 to learn if the state will add chronic pain to a list of conditions approved to apply for medical marijuana.
The state has been dragging their feet in regards to adding chronic pain to the list of approved conditions for medical marijuana, and now they’ve decided to table the idea until next year. State officials said they feared approving the condition could overextend medical marijuana manufacturers who are already in high gear prepping for the program’s launch this summer. The state said potentially adding tens of thousands more medical marijuana patients could be troublesome for Minnesota’s two marijuana manufacturers.
Manny Munson-Regala, assistant commissioner of the medical marijuana program’s launch, said he “didn’t see a way to do this in a thoughtful, structured way,” in terms of having the medicine available for 2015. I do think more testing is needed, as chronic pain can be caused by a myriad of internal issues, but citing supply and demand issues seems like a weak excuse. Under the current timetable, the earliest a chronic pain sufferer could get medical marijuana would be August 2016, if the condition get’s added to the list.
Senator Branden Peterson, R-Andover, was disappointed by the decision. Peterson had a bill that would have made chronic pain an eligible condition starting July 1, 2015. He wasn’t the biggest fan of the state’s supply and demand excuse either.
“I don’t see why we need to wait that long,” said Peterson. “If we acted this session, we could do something that would serve the interests of those patients a lot sooner.”
Although about 88,000 Minnesotans are currently being treated for chronic pain, the state estimates that only about 5,000 would apply for medical marijuana if it were approved.
Here are the important dates now that the state has updated their timeline regarding chronic pain and medical marijuana.
- Spring 2015 – A new panel will examine the pros and cons of adding chronic pain to the approved conditions list.
- December 2015 – The panel will submit their final recommendation to Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger.
- January 15, 2016 – Ehlinger would have to add chronic pain to the list of qualifying conditions by this date to give lawmakers the opportunity to block the condition if they see fit. If it is not added by January 15, patients would likely have to wait until 2017 at the earliest.
Thomas Cohn, MD
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