An expansion of Minnesota's medical marijuana program is underway

For the second year, the list of medical conditions that qualify for marijuana use is growing.

Medical marijuana will soon be available to Minnesotans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The Minnesota Department of Health says patients certified as having PTSD can sign up now to get enrolled in the state's medical cannabis program and could pick up marijuana as soon as August 1.

Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger announced in December that PTSD was being added to the list of medical conditions that qualify for treatment with marijuana. The addition of PTSD comes a year after intractable pain was put on the list, and it brings the number of qualifying conditions up to 11.

How to sign up

If you're suffering from post-traumatic stress and want to see if marijuana helps, your first step should be to have a medical provider log onto Minnesota's Medical Cannabis Registry and certify that you have PTSD. This can be done by a doctor, a nurse practitioner, or a physician assistant, the Health Department says.

Once that's done, it clears the way for you – the patient – to register with the Office of Medical Cannabis. The standard registration fee is $200 but there's a reduced fee ($50) for people who use a government-subsidized insurance program.

After that you go to one of the eight locations in Minnesota where medical marijuana is sold. It will be run by either Minnesota Medical Solutions or LeafLine Labs, the only companies authorized by the state to sell cannabis. It'll be pricey, partly because no insurance companies cover medical marijuana.

Medical cannabis users going up

It's been two years since Minnesota passed its law setting up a medical marijuana program. The number of users was pretty small the first year but it's up over 6,000 now.

The CEO of Minnesota Medical Solutions, Dr. Kyle Kingsley, tells the Star Tribune adding intractable pain to the list of conditions last year made a big difference in the number of patients using marijuana. He says the additional patients have allowed the company to lower prices.

Now we'll see if adding PTSD has a similar effect. You can learn more about the disorder from the National Institute of Mental Health.

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