According to a recent Associated Press article No quick decision on medical marijuana for pain; Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton’s Commissioner of Health postponed adding Intractable Pain to Minnesota’s new medical marijuana program. Apparently, Dayton administration officials are setting expectations at the delay being potentially for years. The reason they cite is that they may not be ready for an increased demand. So, they fear including intractable pain in the list of medical problems that qualify for medical marijuana in the Minnesota.
Effective for intractable pain
Marijuana has proven an effective treatment for intractable pain — and better than more commonly used narcotic medications. Marijuana provides pain relief and relief from pain-related disability. And it does not kill people or have the other side effects that toxic opioid pain medications have.
Plant-form cannabis: more supply, and more affordable
But 23 states now having legal medical marijuana; Minnesota being a laggard in this respect. So one might wonder: how other states have an adequate, legal supply of marijuana to meet the demand of the sick? But only one other of those 23 states also failed to allow the plant-form marijuana for medical use. Minnesota could remove that restriction from its law. And allowing plant-form saves time, reduces cost, and helps more suffering people sooner.
Other possibilities come to mind to more quickly ramp up production of legal marijuana in Minnesota; including authorizing more than two producers, and authorizing legal home grow for qualified medical marijuana patients. These would also reduce the expected high cost of medicine in Minnesota’s medical marijuana program.
Minnesota’s governor was not an enthusiastic supporter of the medical marijuana law that eventually passed last year. But he did sign a compromise law that is one of the two weakest in the United States today. This delay in including intractable pain, is more evidence of tepid support for medical marijuana from the Minnesota Governor.
What can we do? The Minnesota legislature could pass additional legislation to strengthen and expand Minnesota’s medical marijuana program. It could also pass the medical necessity defense Bill, to restore fairness for patients facing criminal charges for marijuana. The bill, HF 542 in the Minnesota House and SF 404 in the Minnesota Senate, would give medical marijuana patients the “right to introduce evidence or testimony of a medical need to use, … or [evidence of] a benefit derived from the use” of marijuana or marijuana products.”
By: Thomas C. Gallagher, Minneapolis Marijuana Lawyer and Minnesota NORML Board Member.