People suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in Minnesota will soon be able to find relief in medical marijuana. The state’s Department of Health announced this week that it will be adding PTSD to its approved list of ailments that qualify for its medical cannabis program – one of the strictest in the nation among states who have approved the drug’s medical use. Patients will be able to obtain cannabis for this condition beginning in August.
Minnesota’s medical marijuana program has been struggling with low enrollment numbers and high costs. This is partly due to the fact that only a handful of illnesses are approved for use in the program, and patients can only use cannabis in certain forms – the raw plant cannot be smoked.
The Minnesota Department of Health looked at a list of eight different ailments to consider adding to the medical marijuana program – including arthritis, depression, and certain autism spectrum disorders – although they only picked post-traumatic stress disorder. It was determined the mental health disorder qualified due to promising research on the efficacy of cannabis on the negative effects of PTSD, including irritability, mood swings, anxiety, and panic attacks.
“PTSD was the only one that really came close to meeting my threshold,” said Department of Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger. “There’s widespread agreement among medical experts on the need for improving existing PTSD treatments.”
Ehlinger hoped that the decision would help the thousands of people who suffer from post-traumatic stress in the state of Minnesota – including veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, many of whom struggle with the disorder. However, many vets hesitate to consider medical marijuana as a treatment due to its illegal status on the federal level, meaning Veterans Affairs does not pay for nor condone the drug.
In other news for the state’s medical marijuana program, the Department of Health approved the manufacture and use of topical patches, creams and lotions as another delivery method. They will join the oils, capsules and vapors that are currently available. When medical cannabis was legalized in 2014, it explicitly banned smoking or using the full plant. Topical treatments are often effective for people suffering from chronic pain and muscle spasms.
Andrew Bachmann is the chief executive of LeafLine Labs, one of two approved medical marijuana producers in Minnesota. His company is thrilled with the approval of the new products.
“This gives us another avenue,” Bachmann said in an interview with the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “It’s a route of delivery that was missed with the original statute.”