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Minnesota Adds Chronic Pain, Macular Degeneration To Medical Cannabis Program

The Minnesota Department of Health said it has approved chronic pain and age-related macular degeneration as new qualifying conditions for the state's medical cannabis program. Under state law, the new conditions will take effect in August 2020.

In addition to the newly approved conditions, the Minnesota Department of Health or MDH received petitions for four other conditions - anxiety, insomnia, psoriasis and traumatic brain injury.

However, the agency rejected these petitions as the conditions were petitioned previously and this year's petitions did not include new scientific evidence.

"The generally positive experience patients have had using medical cannabis to treat intractable pain prompted us to add chronic pain as a qualifying condition. Meanwhile, the decision to add age-related macular degeneration was due to a lack of good treatment options for managing symptoms," said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm.

The MDH also approved two new delivery methods to give patients more options. The new methods being added are water-soluble cannabinoid multi-particulates, such as granules, powders and sprinkles; and orally dissolvable products such as lozenges, gums, mints, buccal tablets and sublingual tablets.

The state currently allows delivery forms such as liquid (including oils), pills, vaporizable liquids or oils, and topical applications. Minnesota law does not permit smokable or edible forms of medical cannabis.

The two new delivery methods will also become effective August 1, 2020.

Malcolm said the changes will give patients more options, particularly in light of concerns about potential health impacts of e-cigarettes and vaping.

Further, the MDH said that the program's two medical cannabis manufacturers will double the number of patient cannabis treatment centers following legislation passed during the 2019 Minnesota Legislative Session. These new sites will mean greater access to cannabis treatment centers.

The manufacturers have selected eight locations for additional centers. Leafline Labs has proposed centers in Willmar, Mankato, Golden Valley and Rogers, while Minnesota Medical Solutions has proposed centers in Woodbury, Blaine, Duluth and Burnsville.

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