Jun 14, 2016 9:15 AM

Minnesota Department of Health Confirms Benefits of Medical Cannabis

Recently, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has released the findings of their study on the benefits of different treatments that involve medical cannabis. According to the survey, most patients taking part in the state’s medical marijuana program report beneficial effects of this natural remedy.

It is important to stress that it was a survey, and not a clinical trial; the survey’s results cannot be considered hard scientific evidence for the benefits of medical marijuana or its effectiveness as a treatment for a certain condition. However, the survey still serves as an indicator of the perceived benefits of the medical marijuana program in Minnesota.

In fact, the researchers were surprised that approximately 90 percent of patients reported either medium or high level of benefits. Only 20 percent of patients reported having some non-life-threatening side-effects.

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The survey was carried out during the first three months of Minnesota’s medical cannabis program. Participants of the survey were asked to rate their level of the positive effects of medical cannabis from 1 to 7. A score of 1 or 2 meant no or insignificant benefit, while score 3 to 5 reflected moderate perceived positive effect, and score 6 or 7 showed significant benefit from using medical marijuana.

The MDH surveyed the 241 patients who bought their first medical marijuana between July 1 and Sept. 30, 2015. The agency also surveyed 94 health-care practitioners, asking them to rank the benefits of cannabis for their 169 patients.

Nearly 90 percent of the patients told that they experienced moderate (24%) or significant (66%) benefits from marijuana. Approximately 46 percent of healthcare providers rated cannabis effects as “significant” by putting a score of 6 or 7. Another 31 percent reported seeing mild or medium benefits from marijuana use.

As for the reported side effects, the most common ones included drowsiness, dry mouth, fatigue, paranoia, dizziness, and stomach pain. Only four patients stopped their treatment with cannabis because of an increasing amount of seizures. Patients also complained about the high cost of medical cannabis. More than 70 percent of the participants found it too expensive for treatment.

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Patients participating in the survey were diagnosed with different conditions, but the most common ones were cancer, seizures, and spasms. People suffering from cancer reported the most beneficial effects of medical marijuana, while the practitioners noticed the maximum result in their patients struggling from muscle spasms. Moreover, the practitioners also reported a significant decrease in chronic pain levels among their patients in the result of taking cannabis. Six patients were even able to decrease the dosage of prescribed opioids.

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The full report of this survey was published in the Minnesota Medicine Magazine; the MDH also made the survey available at their medical cannabis website.

Currently, licensed medical cannabis doctors in Minnesota can legally prescribe marijuana in oil or liquid form to patients suffering from nine medical conditions, such as glaucoma, cancer, epilepsy seizures, Tourette syndrome, muscle spasms, Crohn’s disease, HIV/AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and terminal diseases.

Starting July 1, people struggling from intractable pain will also be able to get medical marijuana treatment. Moreover, the agency is planning to extend the list of qualifying medical conditions in the near future. Minnesotans can ask the MDH to add other illnesses to the list of qualifying conditions by sending a petition to the agency. The MDH will annually accept these requests between June 1 and July 31.

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