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Minn.: Chronic pain to qualify for medical cannabis; new “Be Heard on Cannabis” dates

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.

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Medical Marijuana

Minn. patients and health providers: Help expand the medical cannabis program​

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 petitions@sensible.mn. If you have questions or would like more information, please reach out to petitions@sensible.mn.

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Medical Marijuana

Minn.: Alzheimer’s approved for medical cannabis, other conditions rejected

Yesterday, the Minnesota Department of Health approved adding Alzheimer’s disease as a qualifying condition for medical cannabis, but rejected opioid use disorder, hepatitis C, traumatic brain injury, and insomnia.

Many thanks to Sensible Minnesota and to all the advocates and health professionals who were involved in petitioning to expand the program! Their dedicated work (with an assist from MPP) also resulted in the addition of intractable pain, PTSD, autism, and sleep apnea.

Under state law, Alzheimer’s disease patients will be able to apply for medical cannabis starting next summer.

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Medical Marijuana

Georgia PTSD and intractable pain patients may now enroll in low-THC oil program

Georgians suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and those with intractable pain may begin signing up for the state’s low-THC oil program. A bill passed earlier this year, House Bill 65, went into effect on July 1, adding these two serious conditions.

Intractable pain is devastating and is often defined as constant and excruciating. Those who experience it sometimes turn to reliance on opioid medications. While low-THC oil may not replace opioids for these patients, many have found medical cannabis products can allow them to use fewer opioids by reducing pain levels, helping patients maintain appetite and serving as a sleep aid. It can be an important new tool in a treatment program.

Many who suffer from PTSD can also find relief through use of medical cannabis products. This debilitating disease can affect all aspects of a person’s life, and like intractable pain, pharmaceutical drugs used to treat the condition can themselves cause harm. Veterans and those experiencing PTSD deserve a safer alternative.

The state’s program has grown in recent years, but Georgia’s limited, low-THC approach remains flawed. While patients have some protections, there is no regulatory system behind production or sale, leaving access to cannabis in the shadows. We hope Georgia can improve its program when lawmakers reconvene in 2019.

While short of a complete solution, these changes are welcome.

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Medical Marijuana

Louisiana governor signs medical marijuana bills into law

Gov. John Bel Edwards has signed HB 579 and HB 627, which expand the qualifying conditions for medical marijuana! These two bills add a variety of new conditions including autism, PTSD, and intractable pain.

This is a great step towards Louisiana having a functional medical marijuana program. Next session, we are hopeful the legislature will allow the vaporization of medical marijuana so that patients can finally have real access to the medicine they need.

Congratulations to Sensible Marijuana Policy for Louisiana and all the activists that showed up to the statehouse and contacted their lawmakers in support of these reforms!

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Medical Marijuana

Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced in Iowa

Apr 17, 2017 Maggie Ellinger-Locke

cancer, intractable pain, Iowa, PTSD, Senate Appropriations Committee

The Iowa Senate Appropriations Committee introduced a bill to establish a comprehensive medical cannabis program in the state. The bill already received unanimous support by a subcommittee at a hearing last week, and may receive a full Senate vote as early as this week.

The bill would allow patients suffering from cancer, PTSD, intractable pain, and a host of other aliments access to this life-saving treatment option if their doctors certify them for the program. The bill would not allow patients to smoke cannabis, but patients could still vaporize or consume their medicine in other forms. You can read more about the bill here.

The Iowa legislative session is almost over for the year, so in order to pass this bill, your lawmakers need to hear from you. If you are an Iowa resident, please contact your legislators.

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Medical Marijuana

Limited Medical Cannabis Oil Bill Heads to Virginia Governor

Virginia is in its final week of its 2016 legislative session and of the many marijuana-related bills Virginian lawmakers considered this year, only one — SB 701 — has made it to the desk of Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

[caption id="attachment_9639" align="alignright" width="200"] Gov. Terry McAuliffe[/caption]

This limited bill allows the cultivation of cannabis by pharmaceutical processes that would then produce cannabidiol oil. Patients suffering from intractable epilepsy could receive the oil with a written certification from their doctor. While Gov. McAuliffe is expected to sign the legislation, epileptic patients won’t receive any benefit until at least 2017, as the bill requires a second passage next year.

While MPP applauds the Commonwealth’s effort to bring relief to residents suffering from epilepsy, this measure does not go nearly far enough. If you are a resident of Virginia, please ask your elected officials to show compassion for our sickest residents, including those with other serious conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, intractable pain, and PTSD. Medical marijuana is far less harmful and poses fewer negative side effects than most prescription drugs — especially painkillers — and patients often find it to be a more effective treatment.

We celebrate this narrow victory and look forward to a future where patients can benefit from the expertise of their doctors by finding relief in medical cannabis.

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Medical Marijuana

Minnesota Health Dept. Accepting Public Comments on New Rules

Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger gave patients reason to cheer earlier this month when he approved intractable pain as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana. Unfortunately, though, proposed revisions to Minnesota’s medical marijuana regulations could result in an excruciatingly long delay for reviewing future petitions. Under the proposed changes, there could be a delay of more than two years from the time a petition to add a new qualifying condition or delivery method is made to when it takes effect!

If you are a Minnesota resident, please write to Commissioner Ed Ehlinger at the Minnesota Department of Health and urge him to once again show compassion to patients by changing the timeline for adding new conditions. Members of the public may comment on the proposed rules until Wednesday, December 16.

A vast majority of medical marijuana states allow individuals to use and access any number of preparations of medical marijuana to treat a variety of conditions. Minnesota is one of the few that exclude conditions like severe nausea and that strictly limits the modes of delivery — including by excluding whole plant.

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Medical Marijuana

Minnesota to Allow Medical Marijuana for Intractable Pain

Dec 02, 2015 Brendan Valentine

Department of Health, Ed Ehlinger, intractable pain, Minnesota

Today, Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger announced that intractable pain will be added to Minnesota’s medical marijuana program!

[caption id="attachment_9386" align="alignright" width="200"]Official Government Photo Dr. Ed Ehlinger[/caption]

Unless the legislature passes a measure to override his compassionate decision, patients with intractable pain can be certified under the program beginning July 1, 2016. Once certified, they can receive medical marijuana beginning August 1, 2016.

A vast majority of medical marijuana states allow individuals to use and access medical marijuana to treat severe pain, and Minnesota does well to follow suit. Cannabis is far safer than opioids and prescription painkillers, and patients deserve this option.

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Medical Marijuana

Minnesota Intractable Pain Advisory Committee Meeting Thursday

The Minnesota Office of Medical Cannabis Advisory Panel on Intractable Pain will meet on Thursday to decide if intractable pain should be added to the list of qualifying medical conditions under the state’s medical marijuana law. While the public is welcome to attend the meeting, please note that public comment will not be taken on Thursday.

WHAT: Advisory Panel on Intractable Pain meeting
WHEN: Thursday, October 29, 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. CT
WHERE: Amherst H. Wilder Center — Auditorium A, St. Paul

For the past two months, the Minnesota Department of Health has been hosting meetings across the state to solicit public feedback on whether intractable pain should be added. Reports indicate an overwhelming majority of attendees supported adding pain. They also accepted written comments from potential and certified medical cannabis patients, their caregivers and loved ones, health care practitioners, and other interested parties. Just this past weekend, the Star Tribune published an editorial urging the Department of Health to add intractable pain to the state’s medical marijuana law.

Thank you so much to everyone who attended the community hearings, submitted comments, and urged your friends and family to do so, too. These simple acts may soon mean a world of difference for some suffering neighbors.

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