The medical marijuana program in Minnesota has not had a lot of success recently. As a result, the state has decided that they will be allowing for pain patients to have access to medical marijuana. Ed Ehlinger, Health Commissioner, stated on Wednesday that the state will attach “intractable pain” to the list of conditions that allow one to use medical marijuana.
“The existing tools are not working well to manage pain,” Ehlinger, a physician himself, stated. The addition of pain patients to the medicinal program was the “right and compassionate” decision.
Approved pain patients will legally be able to use medical marijuana starting on August 1st, 2016, assuming that the Legislature does not change his mind. Since July, program has had a hard time due to high prices as well as a lack of people enrolling. As of last week, the program had 760 enrolled participants, but experts predict that opening it up to pain patients could raise that number by thousands.
Many states that have legalized medical marijuana already allow pain to be a qualifying condition, and in those states, the pain patients just so happen to make up most of the patients within the program. However, the idea of bringing thousands of patients into Minnesota’s current restrictive program led to much controversy. An eight-member group of health experts protested expansions, although hundreds of citizens were evidently supportive of the idea. Ehlinger ignored this, though, stating that his decision will be what is best for both the patient as well as the state.