Minnesota has added obstructive sleep apnea as a qualifying condition for the state’s medical cannabis program, announced Minnesota Commissioner of Health Ed Ehlinger, MD.The change is effective July 1, 2018. In the same announcement, Ehlinger said autism spectrum disorders are also added as a qualifying condition.
“Any policy decisions about cannabis are difficult due to the relative lack of published scientific evidence,” says Ehlinger in a release. “However, there is increasing evidence for potential benefits of medical cannabis for those with severe autism and obstructive sleep apnea.”
This year, as in years past, the Minnesota Department of Health used a formal petitioning process to solicit public input on potential qualifying conditions. Throughout June and July, Minnesotans were invited to submit petitions to add qualifying conditions. The process included public comments, a citizens’ review panel, and a set of research summaries for each condition prepared by Minnesota Department of Health staff.
Petitioners put forward a total of 10 conditions for consideration this year, including anxiety disorders, autism, cortico-basal degeneration, dementia, endogenous cannabinoid deficiency syndrome, liver disease, nausea, obstructive sleep apnea, Parkinson’s disease, and peripheral neuropathy. There were also petitions to add cannabis delivery methods including infused edibles and vaporizing or smoking cannabis flowers. These requests were not approved.
Patients certified for the program because of obstructive sleep apnea must meet published diagnostic criteria for the condition, including interpretation of a formal sleep study. The review panel and the health department’s research brief identified some scientific evidence of effectiveness of cannabis treatments.
Under current state rules, patients certified to have obstructive sleep apnea will be newly eligible to enroll in the program on July 1, 2018 and receive medical cannabis from the state’s two medical cannabis manufacturers beginning Aug 1, 2018. As with the program’s other qualifying conditions, patients will need advance certification from a Minnesota health care provider. More information on the program’s certification process is available from the Office of Medical Cannabis.
When the 2014 Minnesota Legislature authorized the creation of a medical cannabis program, the law included a set of 9 medical conditions that would qualify a person to receive medical cannabis. State rules also direct the commissioner of health to consider the possible addition of other qualifying conditions and delivery methods. The list of current qualifying conditions includes:
- 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 (effective July 1, 2018)
- Obstructive sleep apnea (effective July 1, 2018)