Everyone who speaks at hearing wants pain to qualify for medical marijuana

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Unanimous agreement is pretty scarce at a public hearing.

But in West St. Paul on Tuesday night, there was three hours of testimony on whether patients suffering intractable pain should qualify for medical marijuana, and everyone who spoke said yes, it should, the Star Tribune reports.

Minnesota Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger listened to the succession of people describing what it's like to live with continual pain that does not respond to standard medical treatments, the newspaper says.

Ehlinger is considering whether Minnesota's Office of Medical Cannabis should add pain to the list of conditions – such as cancer, epilepsy, and HIV/AIDS – that qualify a patient for marijuana use if a doctor prescribes it.

Even before Tuesday's testimony, public input was running decisively in favor of adding intractable pain to the list, with the Health Department telling KSTP 90 percent of comments received supported the addition.

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The public is not alone in providing input on this decision, though.

Last week a panel of health experts recommended against expanding the medical marijuana program by making intractable pain a qualifying condition.

Unlike those who testified Tuesday, the medical panel was divided, voting 5-3 against adding pain. Their report includes concerns about the potential for abuse and about a shortage of evidence that marijuana would effectively treat the pain.

Ehlinger has until the end of the year to make a decision. The Star Tribune says his ruling will become state policy unless it is changed by the Legislature.

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