Minnesotans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) will be able to use medical marijuana to treat their condition.
PTSD is the latest medical condition to be added to Minnesota's list of illnesses that qualifies patients for medical marijuana, Commissioner of Health Dr. Ed Ehlinger announced on Thursday. Sufferers will be able to access the drug, with a note from a qualifying doctor, in August 2017.
It brings the total number of qualifying conditions for Minnesota's medical marijuana program to 11, and it comes after the 10th – intractable pain – was added to the list by Ehlinger almost a year ago to the day. (Here's the full list.)
The commissioner said the decision came "after careful deliberation of available evidence" and conversations with experts and members of the public.
Other conditions were also considered
It was one of nine conditions that were put forward by petitions for consideration this year. The others considered were schizophrenia, acquired absence of limb (phantom limb syndrome), arthritis, autism, depression, diabetes, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and insomnia.
Dr. Ehlinger said it was "difficult" to review several of these conditions due to a lack of published scientific evidence that show the benefits of using marijuana to treat them.
"PTSD presented the strongest case for potential benefits," he said. "PTSD also has few effective treatment alternatives available for some patients with the condition."
The National Institute of Mental Health says PTSD affects people who "have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event," which later can trigger flashbacks, nightmares and frightening thoughts and impacts people's daily lives, ability to sleep and can prompt outbursts.
Ointments may also be coming
Another change announced by the Minnesota Department of Health will allow the state's medical marijuana manufacturers to develop alternative ways of administering the drug.
Currently, medical marijuana can only be offered in pill or liquid for, but the health department has cleared the way for makers to develop patches, lotions, creams, gels and ointments to deliver it.