Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Ed Ehlinger today announced the decision to add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a new qualifying condition for the state's medical cannabis program.
"This decision was made after careful deliberation of available evidence, consultation with experts in the field and public input," Commissioner Ehlinger said. "While the process of reviewing these potential additions was difficult due to the relative lack of published scientific evidence, PTSD presented the strongest case for potential benefits. PTSD also has few effective treatment alternatives available for some patients with the condition."
Petitioners put forward a total of nine conditions for consideration this year, including PTSD, schizophrenia, acquired absence of limb (phantom limb syndrome), arthritis, autism, depression, diabetes, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and insomnia.
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) also opted to allow manufacturers to develop and provide topical formulations of medical cannabis. According to Commissioner Ehlinger, the evidence suggested patches, lotions, creams, gels and ointments could offer a safe, effective and low-risk method for providing medical cannabis in known dosage to qualified patients.
When the 2014 Minnesota Legislature authorized the creation of a medical cannabis program in Minnesota, the law included a set of nine medical conditions that would qualify a person to receive medical cannabis. State rules also direct the commissioner of health to consider the possible addition of other qualifying conditions and delivery methods.
Throughout June and July, Minnesotans were invited to submit petitions to add qualifying conditions. MDH received nine petitions for new qualifying conditions and petitions for new delivery methods including topical, edible and vaporizing the whole plant. The process included nearly 50 public comments, a citizens' review panel and a set of research summaries for each condition prepared by MDH staff.
Under current law, patients certified with PTSD will be eligible to receive medical cannabis from the state's two medical cannabis manufacturers beginning August 1, 2017. As with the program's other qualifying conditions, patients will need advance certification from a Minnesota health care provider. More information on the program's certification process is available on the MDH website at the Office of Medical Cannabis.