ST. PAUL — Beginning in late 2020, Minnesota residents who have chronic pain or age-related macular degeneration will be able to apply to the state's medical cannabis program.
The state Department of Health announced on Monday, Dec. 2, that both conditions will be added to the list of those that qualify for the program in August of next year. That same month, the department will also make medical pot available in two new forms of ingestion that it recently approved.
Currently, the department only allows medical marijuana to be consumed in the form of a liquid, pill, topical medication or vaporized substance. The updates will grant patients access to water-soluble options, such as powdered beverage mixes and orally dissolvable products, such as lozenges and gum.
Also poised to grow is the number of medical cannabis treatment centers that the program's two manufacturers are able to operate. Leafline Labs has proposed to open new centers in Willmar, Mankato, Golden Valley and Rogers, according to the department, while Minnesota Medical Solutions is proposing locations Woodbury, Blaine, Duluth and Burnsville.
New qualifying conditions are petitioned to be added to the program and are reviewed by department administrators to determine whether they show promise for treatment with medical cannabis. Petitions for four other conditions were submitted to the department in 2019: anxiety, insomnia, psoriasis and traumatic brain injury. In a statement, the department asserted that the petitions lacked any "new scientific evidence" that supported the addition of those conditions to the program.
Speaking to reporters by phone on Monday, state Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said that the department has not estimated the number of new patients that could apply to the program as the result of the newly approved conditions. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, chronic pain alone affects some 20% of Americans.
Officials said that a timeline for the launch of the new treatment centers has not been established but that some are expected to open late in the spring of 2020.
People diagnosed with chronic pain and macular degeneration will be able to apply to the program beginning in July 2020.