At long last, Minnesota plans to include chronic pain in its medical cannabis program. Unless the legislature overturns the Department of Health’s recent decision, chronic pain will be a qualifying condition for medical cannabis beginning in August 2020. The department also approved adding macular degeneration, effective next August. Qualifying patients must register with the state and submit a medical professional’s certification to access the program.
While “intractable pain” has been included in Minnesota’s program since August 2016, the restrictive definition leaves many pain patients behind. Finally, chronic pain patients will not be left to needlessly suffer or be steered to far more dangerous treatments. We’re grateful to our allies at Sensible Minnesota for spearheading this and other petitions to expand Minnesota’s medical cannabis program. MPP contributed a letter in support.
Upcoming “Be Heard on Cannabis” Community Conversations
In other news, House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler’s “Be Heard on Cannabis” listening tour is continuing.
Maple Grove "Be Heard on Cannabis" Community Conversation
When: TOMORROW, Thursday, December 5, 6:00 p.m.
Where: Maple Grove Government Center, 12800 Arbor Lakes Pkwy N, Maple Grove, MN 55369
Austin "Be Heard on Cannabis" Community Conversation
When: Saturday, December 7, 11:00 a.m.
Where: Austin City Council Room, 500 4th Ave NE, Austin, MN 55912
Rochester "Be Heard on Cannabis" Community Conversation
When: Saturday, December 7, 3:00 p.m.
Where: Heintz Center at the Rochester Community and Technical College, 1926 Collegeview Rd E, Rochester, MN 55904
South Minneapolis "Be Heard on Cannabis" Community Conversation
When: Wednesday, December 18, 7:00 p.m.
Where: East Phillips Park Cultural & Community Center, 2307 17th Ave S., Minneapolis, MN 55404
Shakopee "Be Heard on Cannabis" Community Conversation
When: Wednesday, January 29, 6:00 p.m.
Where: Shakopee VFW, 1201 3rd Ave E Shakopee, MN 55379
For a list of the hosts and panelists who will lead each community conversation, along with other cities "Be Heard on Cannabis" will visit, check out Rep. Winkler’s "Be Heard on Cannabis" webpage. And stay tuned for updates to the list.
The House and Senate will need to work together to get this done — please contact your representatives and senators today!
Last week, Gov. Ned Lamont held a press conference with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and the two governors announced that they would work together with other governors in the region to end marijuana prohibition. Gov. Lamont said he would ask the Connecticut Legislature to pass a bill legalizing and regulating cannabis when it convenes in January.
This is a promising development, but we know that Gov. Lamont can't make it happen by himself — the House and Senate will have to cooperate to make legalization a reality. Please email your elected officials right now and urge them to support ending marijuana prohibition in 2020!
In other positive news, the Medical Marijuana Program Board of Physicians recommended that chronic pain and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome be added as qualifying conditions for patients 18 and older. Unfortunately, it could take up to a year before the additions are enacted, and the recommended requirements for a chronic pain diagnosis are far more restrictive than in most other states: doctors would have to document a chronic pain period of six months or more, an underlying condition causing the pain, and that other treatments have failed.
If the legislature does its job next year, adult-use legalization could be a reality by the time these conditions are added. After you write your legislators, please "like" our coalition on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and share this message with your family and friends!
Effective advocacy costs money, so please also consider supporting our efforts with a donation.
Submit a letter of support if you could benefit from allowing oral uptake delivery or from adding chronic pain or TBI to the program.
Minnesota's medical cannabis law started as one of the most restrictive in the nation. Thanks to the hard work of our allies at Sensible Minnesota and the voices of patients and providers, it has steadily been expanded via the Department of Health petition process. Intractable pain, PTSD, autism, and other conditions have been added administratively to include tens of thousands more patients.
Sensible Minnesota is now focused on expanding conditions to include chronic pain, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and to allow oral uptake delivery. If you are a patient, caregiver, family member, healthcare provider, or someone else who could benefit from the addition of these conditions or delivery method, please consider providing a letter of support by the end of the day on Friday, July 26.
The National Academy of Sciences found there is conclusive or substantial evidence that cannabis relieves chronic pain. Adding "chronic pain" would allow thousands more patients to qualify who do not fall under the restrictive definition of intractable pain.
Oral uptake delivery — which can be done with gums, lozenges, or mints — permits patients to absorb cannabinoids through the mucosal lining of the mouth. This means the patient doesn't need to swallow the product, which can take far longer to get into the bloodstream to provide relief.
If you are a pain or TBI patient who has already received benefit from medical cannabis, please consider providing a letter to share your story.
You can submit your letter of support using Sensible Minnesota's online form or via email to email@example.com. If you have questions or would like more information, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We must continue building support for legalization, but first, we need to make sure chronic pain is approved as a qualifying condition for medical cannabis.
A new poll just came out, and it confirms (yet again) that Connecticut residents strongly support legalizing cannabis and expunging criminal records for low-level offenses. Sadly, the legislature ended its regular session yesterday without voting on any of the bills that would have ended cannabis prohibition.
It's disappointing that our opponents were able to create enough uncertainty and confusion to delay our progress. However, we've come a long way — three committees advanced bills to legalize, regulate, and tax cannabis this year. If we can ramp up our efforts, we are optimistic we can get past the finish line in 2020. Please help us continue to build our coalition by making a contribution today. Please also "like" our coalition on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!
Unfortunately, your help appears to be needed on another issue. You might think it would be a no-brainer for Connecticut to approve chronic pain as a qualifying condition for the medical cannabis program, but the discussion about whether to do so has been "tabled for a future meeting" by the Board of Physicians.
Finally, please share this message with your family and friends!
Last week, the Alabama Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill that would legalize medical marijuana in the state. SB 236 would allow qualifying patients 19 and older to possess and purchase medical marijuana from authorized dispensaries.
Several conditions would qualify for medical marijuana treatment, including PTSD, chronic pain, cancer, autism, and epilepsy.
The bill will likely move to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration. Please contact your representative in the House in support of medical marijuana in Alabama today. Then, get the word out by forwarding this email to friends and family or by sharing the action link on social media.
Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved SB 236 in a 6-2 vote. The bill would establish a medical marijuana program in Alabama and would allow patients 19 years or older to use medical marijuana to treat 33 different conditions, including autism, chronic pain, and anxiety.
Contact your lawmakers in support of SB 236 today. Medical marijuana won’t pass in Alabama without robust grassroots outreach, so please email them now.
Last week, the same committee approved a bill that would decriminalize marijuana.
Please contact your public officials today and then help get the word out by forwarding this email to friends and family. Together we can bring sensible marijuana laws to the South.
Two-thirds of Americans now live in states with compassionate laws that allow the medical use of marijuana. Meanwhile, Tennessee patients are stuck with the cruel choice of forgoing a medicine that could bring them relief, uprooting from their home state, or breaking the law to ease their suffering.
Last week, Republican lawmakers introduced twin bills that would finally allow medical cannabis in the Volunteer State. Sen. Janice Bowling and Rep. Ron Travis' Tennessee Medical Cannabis Act would provide relief to patients with around 20 medical conditions, including cancer, chronic pain, seizures, spasms, opioid addiction, and PTSD.
Unfortunately, Gov. Bill Lee (R) said he wants to "explore alternatives before we go there."
You can call Gov. Lee at 615-741-2001 or send him a tweet to respectfully let him know that patients have explored alternatives, but that medical cannabis simply works for some patients where other medicines do not. You can let him know cannabis is far safer than prescription painkillers. While 16,000 Americans die each year from opiates, none have died of a cannabis overdose.
Let your governor know Tennessee patients deserve the same medical freedom patients have in 32 other states.
And don't forget to write your lawmakers. Finally, please spread the word to other Tennesseans, so that they, too, can raise their voices for sensible and humane cannabis policies.
The Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine announced the department will implement all of the advisory board’s recommended changes to the medical marijuana program. They include:
- Allowing patients to use whole plant, flower cannabis via vaporization.
- Rewording the qualifying condition “severe chronic or intractable pain” to delete the phrase “in which conventional therapeutic intervention and opiate therapy is contraindicated or ineffective.”
- Allowing patients to qualify if they are undergoing “addiction substitute therapy — opioid reduction.”
- Adding the following conditions to the program: cancer while in remission therapy, neurodegenerative diseases, dyskinetic and spastic movement disorders, and terminal illness.
- Eventually requiring minor patients to have recommendations from a pediatrician or other pediatric or adolescent health specialist. (This could be problematic due to the very small number of pediatricians who are recommending cannabis.)
The department will promulgate regulations with these changes on May 12, and they will then undergo legislative review.
These changes would have a major impact for Pennsylvania patients. Allowing cannabis in its flower form is crucial to affordability. And with the revised wording for severe pain, Pennsylvania will no longer steer pain patients to more dangerous medications, such as opiates.
Yesterday, Gov. Phil Murphy held a press conference to announce numerous changes to the medical marijuana program in New Jersey that will greatly improve patient access. These include:
- Approving additional qualifying conditions under a process that was begun in 2016 — including chronic pain and opioid use disorder — which will help reduce opioid dependence and overdose.
- Setting up a process to add additional businesses and remove the vertical integration requirement, which will increase competition and therefore reduce prices for patients.
- Eliminating the physician registry, so that all doctors who wish to do so can recommend medical cannabis to their patients without jumping through hoops.
- Removing the 10% THC cap imposed by regulation, because some patients need products with more THC for the most effective treatment.
In addition, the Department of Health’s report recommended additional changes, which would have to be made by the legislature. These include increasing the amount of cannabis that patients can purchase each month and allowing patients of all ages to purchase edibles if that’s their preferred delivery method.
You can read the Department of Health's full report here. MPP will continue to work with the administration as it implements these changes,
A court in Cook County, Illinois ruled last week that the Illinois Department of Public Health must add intractable pain as a qualifying condition to the state’s medical cannabis pilot program. Incredibly, the state has vowed to appeal the ruling and continue to shut pain patients out of the state program.
This is an outrage. A MoveOn.org petition is circulating that allows supporters to voice their opposition to the misguided decision by the state. If you agree the state should add intractable pain and want the state to drop its appeal plans, click here.
Patients and advocates have been working to add the condition to the state program since it went into effect in 2015. A panel of doctors and experts charged with considering new conditions voted unanimously to add pain, yet the health department refused to listen.
Even after a court reached the same conclusion, the health department continues to push back and deny access. As the nation struggles to bring a deadly opioid epidemic under control, medical cannabis should be an option for those who seek a safer alternative. Patients in Illinois should not be encouraged to seek relief from the underground market, when a regulated and tested alternative is available.