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Minnesota to Add Alzheimer’s as Medical Marijuana Qualifying Condition

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Beginning in August 2019, those with Alzheimer’s disease will be able to access for a medical marijuana card in Minnesota. The State Health Department announced its approval on December 3. The department is required to review applications to add new conditions.

Alzheimer’s patients will be able to start applying for a medical marijuana card in July, according to MPR News.  Petitions to add new conditions were reviewed during the summer. Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disorder that is progressive.

Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said, “Any policy decisions about cannabis are difficult due to the relative lack of published scientific evidence. However, there is some evidence for potential benefits of medical cannabis to improve the mood, sleep and behavior of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.”

As part of the review, researchers included citations from two studies noting that marijuana helped improve agitation and disruptive nighttime behaviors. These are two symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Ronald Peterson of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at Mayo Clinic commends the approval of Alzheimer’s disease for medical marijuana.

He said, “The thinking is that sometimes people start to realize that they’re not thinking, remembering as well as they formerly did and that may lead to an anxious state for them.”

Dr. Peterson supports additional research being completed on medical marijuana’s efficacy for Alzheimer’s disease. The legality of marijuana makes physical observation of patients a little difficult.

Dr. Peterson said, “The studies can be done with humans to do a placebo-controlled study to see if for example medical marijuana may reduce anxiety and fear and improve the quality of life of patients with Alzheimer’s disease.”

It is unknown when more conditions may be added to the state’s qualifying conditions list.