[MMA News Now, May 29, 2014]
Beginning July 1, 2015, Minnesota residents with one of nine qualifying conditions will be able to access medical cannabis under a new law Gov. Mark Dayton signed on May 29.
Under the law
, physicians (as well as physician assistants and APRNs) certify that a patient has one of nine medical conditions. Once the patient has been certified they apply to the Department of Health to enroll in a patient registry and receive their cannabis from one of two approved manufacturers.
The Minnesota law does not allow smoking of marijuana and only allows it in the form of liquid, oils, or pills - not in the leaf form. If a patient is on the registry the treating physician is required to share information on the patient’s medical condition with the health department for its observational research.
The conditions that are authorized to be treated include: cancer, if the underlying condition or treatment produces one or more of the following: severe or chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, or cachexia or severe wasting; glaucoma; HIV/AIDS; Tourette's syndrome; ALS; seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy; severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis; Crohn's disease; and terminal illness, with a probable life expectancy of under one year, if the illness or its treatment produces one or more of the following: severe or chronic pain; nausea or severe vomiting; or cachexia or severe wasting.
The law also calls for creating a 23-member task force on medical cannabis therapeutic research. The task force shall consist of four legislators; four consumers or patients enrolled in the registry program, including at least two parents of patients under age 18; four health care providers, including one licensed pharmacist; four law enforcement members; four substance use disorder treatment providers; and the commissioners of health, human services and public safety.
The task force will hold hearings to conduct an assessment that evaluates the impact of the use of medical cannabis and evaluates Minnesota's activities and other states' activities involving medical cannabis, and offer analysis of program design and implementation; the impact on the health care provider community; patient experiences; the impact on the incidence of substance abuse; access to and quality of medical cannabis and medical cannabis products; the impact on law enforcement and prosecutions; public awareness and perception; and any unintended consequences.
During the session, the MMA was able to dissuade legislators from passing an earlier version of the bill that would have placed physicians in the awkward, and illegal, position of certifying that a patient may benefit from the use of this Schedule I drug.