Minnesota health officials are adding Alzheimer’s disease as a qualifying condition to get medical marijuana.
The state Health Department announced Monday that the new condition would take effect in August 2019. Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm says there is “some evidence” that marijuana improves the mood, sleep and behavior of people with Alzheimer’s.
“Any policy decisions about cannabis are difficult due to the relative lack of published scientific evidence,” Malcolm said.
The department takes public input on what conditions might be added to quality for the state’s medical marijuana program. Alzheimer’s was one of seven suggested additions. Among those that didn’t make the cut: panic disorder, psoriasis, hepatitis C, opioid use disorder, juvenile idiopathic arthritis and traumatic brain injury.
Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia.
Minnesota lawmakers legalized medical marijuana in 2014. It’s currently approved for such conditions as cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS and intractable pain.
The current list of qualifying conditions includes:
- Cancer associated with severe/chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, or cachexia or severe wasting
- Tourette’s syndrome
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy
- Severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis
- Inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease
- Terminal illness, with a probable life expectancy of less than one year
- Intractable pain
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Autism spectrum disorders
- Obstructive sleep apnea