Chronic Pain Patients May Soon Be Eligible For Medical Marijuana in Minnesota

Minnesota officials are considering adding chronic pain to the list of approved conditions for the state’s medical marijuana program.

Meetings about adding intractable pain to the list of approved conditions for medical marijuana began two weeks ago, but so far officials aren’t any closer to a decision. Should state officials add chronic pain to the approved list, chronic pain sufferers would be able to begin purchasing medical marijuana next summer.

Minnesota Medical Marijuana

Officials are a little leery about adding the chronic condition to the list for a few reasons:

How many would apply? – State officials say they are unsure how many chronic pain sufferers would apply for medical marijuana, and they don’t know if their suppliers would be able to meet the increased demand. Early estimates said it could eventually triple or quadruple the 5,000 patients they currently expect to apply.

Defining chronic pain – Many people deal with pain, but how would chronic pain be defined under the program? One insider suggested that chronic pain would be defined as pain for which “no relief or cure of the cause of the pain is possible,” though the definition could be open to interpretation.

How will doctors respond? – According to the advisory panel tasked with deciding on whether or not chronic pain will be added to the list of approved conditions, some doctors and clinics are leery about sending their patients to buy medical marijuana. There are so many compounds in marijuana, and we don’t have extensive knowledge of how all those compounds will interact with different types of chronic pain.

Decision Time

According to reports, the decision to add chronic pain to the list of approved conditions falls with Department of Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger and his advisory panel. The panel is comprised of medical professionals and health experts who will help Ehlinger make a decision by the end of the year.

Additionally, the Minnesota legislature can expand Ehlinger’s decision should they feel it’s too strict, or they can place more restrictions on the program should they feel it’s too interpretive.

Related source: Star-Tribune

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Thomas Cohn, MD

Interventional pain doctor helping Minnesotans manage back, neck, foot, and other pain. Board-certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation with additional board-certification in pain management from the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA), the American Board of Interventional Pain Physicians (ABIPP) and the American Board of Pain Medicine (ABPM).