The Minnesota Department of Health has announced that three more conditions now qualify for access to the state's medical cannabis program.
The department said sickle cell disease and chronic vocal/or motor tic disorder will be added to its list of qualifying conditions, which will take effect in August 2021.
It comes after MDH sought public submissions for potential qualifying conditions during the summer, which went to a public comment period and before a review panel.
Sickle cell disease, a group of hereditary red blood cell disorders, predominantly affects people who are Black or African American, and per MDH can trigger severe pain when sickle cells "get stuck in small blood vessels and block the flow of blood and oxygen to organs in the body."
Health commissioner Jan Malcolm said allowing marijuana to treat sickle cell will give patients "a non-opioid option to manage their pain."
The addition of vocal or motor tic disorders comes after MDH already added Tourette's syndrome to its qualifying list of medical conditions. People with Tourette's syndrome experience both motor and vocal tics, but the new change will someone with one of the tics – but not both – get medical marijuana.
A separate petition to allow marijuana be prescribed for anxiety was denied, but Malcolm has said it will be revisited in 2021.
“Anxiety is a broad term for a group of specific disorders,” said Malcolm. “We want to dig into specific anxiety disorders more and move forward carefully. The large number of patient testimonials submitted during the petition process tells us there is something there. However, we want to avoid unintended consequences – there is evidence that cannabis use can actually contribute to and make anxiety worse for some people.
“We recognize that this is the third time anxiety has been petitioned for the medical cannabis program, and we thank everyone for their thoughtful comments in support of the petition."
Under the changes, sickle cell or chronic motor/vocal tic disorder will be eligible to enroll from July 1, 2021, and receive their medical cannabis starting a month later.
Fifteen conditions have previously been approved for medical marijuana, they are:
- Cancer associated with severe/chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, or cachexia or severe wasting
- Tourette’s syndrome
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy
- Severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis
- Inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease
- Terminal illness, with a probable life expectancy of less than one year
- Intractable pain
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Autism spectrum disorders
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Chronic pain