Intractable Pain Added as Qualifying Condition for Minnesota's Medical Cannabis Program

By Laura Nelson and Sara Noel

On December 2, 2015, the Minnesota Commissioner of Health announced the addition of intractable pain to the list of qualifying conditions for Minnesota's medical cannabis program. Intractable pain is defined as "a pain state in which the cause of the pain cannot be removed or otherwise treated with the consent of the patient and in which, in the generally accepted course of medical practice, no relief or cure of the cause of the pain is possible, or none has been found after reasonable efforts." Minn. Stat. § 152.125, subd. 1. Health care practitioners may begin counseling patients regarding the use of medical cannabis for intractable pain immediately, but may not certify patients with the condition of intractable pain until July 1, 2016. Certified patients with intractable pain will be able to obtain medical cannabis beginning August 1, 2016.

The Commissioner also announced that the Minnesota Department of Health will ask health care practitioners to report on patient status every six months for those patients certified with intractable pain participating in the medical cannabis program. Additionally, the Commissioner will recommend that medical cannabis be added to Minnesota's Prescription Drug Monitoring Program to help the state gather further data about how medical cannabis is being used and its impact on the use of other drugs that treat pain. The addition of intractable pain as a qualifying condition is expected to significantly increase the number of patients enrolled in the medical cannabis program.

In addition to the announcement regarding intractable pain, the Commissioner also stated that in the spring of 2016, the Department will issue guidance for health care practitioners and patients regarding the potential risks of medical cannabis use by infants and children, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and individuals with a personal or family history of psychosis. This guidance will apply to medical cannabis use by those groups for the treatment of all qualifying conditions.

For more information on the qualifying conditions for Minnesota's medical cannabis program, please contact Dan McInerney, Sara Noel or your usual Stinson Leonard Street LLP contact.

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