The commissioner for the Minnesota Department of Health, Jan Malcolm, has until December 1st to decide on widened medical cannabis coverage. Sensible Minnesota filed the petition to expand the coverage for patients as the advocacy group feels that the current scope of coverage is too finite and does not serve other patients in constant pain. The advocacy group specifically petitioned to add coverage for moderate to severe chronic pain, while the state only covers intractable pain. As per the current definition, intractable pain is defined as a consistent pain that can’t be effectively managed by other, traditional pharmaceutical medications.
Gunnar Aas, Vice President of Sensible Minnesota, stated: “This language has prevented thousands of patients from qualifying for medical cannabis and has made health care providers wary to certify their patients.”
Comparatively, chronic pain is defined as a pain that has been experienced for 6 months or more and its presence has outlasted the injury or illness that caused the source of the chronic pain. It is reported that the 10,929 patients certified last month for intractable pain represent 64% of Minnesota’s medical cannabis treatment registry. If Sensible Minnesota were to be successful in the expansion of pain coverage with medical cannabis, the number of eligible and registered medical cannabis patients within the state would dramatically increase. Chronic pain in Minnesota is reported to be treated with surgeries or injections on a yearly basis for 83,000 individuals. The full number of Minnesotans with chronic pain is not clear.
The commissioner of Health for Minnesota also will decide if macular degeneration is a condition that qualifies patients for medical cannabis oils or pills. If added, this condition would increase the current number of qualifying conditions to 15. The addition of macular degeneration is also expected to dramatically increase the number of eligible patients within the state.
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