Alzheimer’s Added to Qualifying Condition List for Minnesota Medical Marijuana Program

As of July 1, Minnesota residents with Alzheimer’s can register for the state medical cannabis program. Once they are registered, as of August 1, they can purchase cannabis through one of the state’s eight medical cannabis dispensaries. As of December, 2018, the Minnesota Department of Health has intended on placing Alzheimer’s on the list of qualifying conditions alongside cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, ALS, MS, Crohn’s’s’ Disease, PTSD, Epilepsy, and intractable pain.. Out of all the qualifying conditions, Alzheimer’s is the only one approved after a citizen’s review panel that proposed seven new conditions such as opioid use disorder and traumatic brain injury. 

According to the Minnesota Department of Health data, there are 26,457 medical cannabis patients in the state as of March 31 of this year and with over 94,000 Alzheimer’s patients in the state, officials expect the program to grow substantially with the new inclusion. More information about registering to the Minnesota medical cannabis program can be found on the state’s website.

Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disorder that causes cognitive impairments, depression, delusions, and increased agitation. It is the most common source of dementia in elderly people and there is no known cure. Studies show that cannabinoids such as THC and CBD could help manage the behavioral symptoms that reduces the quality of life for patients and caregivers. While no current studies can prove that cannabis treatments can prevent, stop, slow, or reverse Alzheimer’s, there are some new studies that imply it can be a possibility. A recent study found that micro-doses of THC slowed the production of protein plaques scientists believe is one of the leading causes of dementia. 

Although, Minnesota Health Commissioner, Jan Malcolm only approved one of the seven proposed qualifying conditions for this year, he acknowledges the scientific prospects of cannabis in improving mood, sleep, and behavior of those suffering from Alzheimer’s. He claims, “Any policy decisions about cannabis are difficult due to the relative lack of scientific evidence” although there is ample scientific research available affirming cannabis as a valid treatment for many of the other six conditions presented by the citizen panel such as arthritis, opioid use disorder, and traumatic brain injury. 

But For 2019, Minnesota’s total for medical cannabis qualifying conditions stands at 14. A list that has grown every year from the  initial nine conditions when the medical cannabis program was introduced in 2014.