Minnesota allowing Alzheimer’s patients to use medical marijuana

“Alzheimer’s presented the strongest and clearest case for potential benefits."

Edgar Linares
December 03, 2018 - 5:44 pm

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Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said out of several conditions petitioned this year for medical cannabis use, Alzheimer's had the strongest case. 

Each year the Commissioner has the ability to add a new qualifying condition and delivery method for the use of medical marijuana. Malcolm said this year, after public testimony and research, her department received seven petitions for qualifying conditions. 

“Alzheimer’s presented the strongest and clearest case for potential benefits,” said Malcolm during a conference call. "It may decrease agitation, confusion, rage and other symptoms of Alzheimer’s and increase the appetite of those with the condition.”

Malcolm said science also suggests medical cannabis may have some neuroprotective properties, and because Alzheimer’s has an older patient population, the unknown risk of prolonged use of medical cannabis is mitigated.

The condition has now been added to following list of medical conditions that qualify for medical cannabis use:

•  Cancer associated with severe/chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, or cachexia or severe wasting 
•  Glaucoma 
•  HIV/AIDS 
•  Tourette 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 
•  Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Under state law patients who are certified by their medical provider to have Alzheimer's will be eligible to receive medical cannabis starting August 1st, 2019.

Malcolm says the shortage of published evidence about the benefits of medical cannabis makes the process of adding qualifying conditions difficult. She wishes more could be done at the federal level to study the medicine, so public health care leaders and health practitioners can determine when medical cannabis can be beneficial and when it cannot.