Public, Panel Split on Letting Pain Patients Take Medical Marijuana

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Medical MarijuanaUpdated: 11/04/2015 10:17 PM
Created: 11/04/2015 7:39 PM
By: Josh Rosenthal

New survey results show that everyday Minnesotans strongly support the expansion of the state’s medical marijuana program, but experts aren’t quite so sure.

This comes less than two months before the Department of Health commissioner decides whether intractable pain should be added to the state’s list of qualifying conditions.

The Minnesota Department of Health released two documents Wednesday. One is a summary of recommendations from the state’s advisory panel of experts. A majority — 5 of 8 panel members — are against adding intractable pain to the state’s list of qualifying conditions. They cited a lack of medical marijuana research and expressed concern that patients could abandon other proven pain management regimens, like physical therapy.

The other document is a summary of more than 400 public comments, which shows an overwhelming majority of Minnesotans who commented — 93 percent — are in favor of adding to the list.

A new KSTP-SurveyUSA poll showed similar results. When asked if the state should expand its medical marijuana program, 67 percent of respondents said yes, 26 percent said no, and 7 percent weren’t sure. The poll has a 4.1 percent margin of sampling error.

“These numbers show that we are earning people’s trust. that’s two-thirds of Minnesotans,” said Joe Loveland, the spokesperson for Minnesota Medical Solutions, one of the state’s two marijuana manufacturers. He said adding intractable pain to the state’s list of qualifying conditions could help a lot of people — and not only with pain.

“Just having more patients would help us spread cost so that we could bring down prices for patients,” Loveland explained.

Right now there are fewer than 700 people enrolled in the state’s medical marijuana program. This week, state officials said that one in seven approved patients have stopped buying the medicine. Some have told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the medical marijuana costs too much. That’s despite the state’s two manufacturers lowering their prices in recent weeks.

The state department of health commissioner has until Jan. 1 to decide whether to add intractable pain to Minnesota’s list of qualifying conditions. That decision could then be reviewed, supported, or reversed by the state legislature.


Posted in News/Announcements.