In its February 23, 2015 new release, the Minnesota Department of Health released the findings from its voluntary, informal, survey of approximately 1,361 people who were potential participants in Minnesota’s upcoming medical marijuana program. The program is slated to begin on July 1, 2015, with dispensary locations planned in Eagan, Hibbing, Maple Grove, Minneapolis, Moorhead, Rochester, St. Cloud and St. Paul.
While the results of the survey are far from scientific, it gives information regarding what ailments Minnesotans interested in medicinal marijuana want relief from. Over half (51.5 percent) suffer from multiple sclerosis or severe muscle spasms, 17.6 percent suffer from cancer, 17.5 percent suffer from epilepsy or seizures, 10.8 percent suffer from glaucoma, 9.3 suffer from Crohn’s disease and 7.5 percent suffer from terminal illness. (Note: these percentages do not add up to 100 percent because some survey participants indicated that they suffered from more than one ailment).
The responses do not cover all potential illnesses/conditions that would permit someone from obtaining medical marijuana. The full list of conditions are:
• 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;
• Crohn’s disease;
• Terminal illness, with a life expectancy of less than one year, if the illness or treatment produces severe/chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, cachexia or severe wasting.
Most of Minnesota’s counties were represented in the survey (92%), which indicates that the people who qualify and are in need of medicinal marijuana treatment will come from all areas in the state. Most participants were between the ages of 19 to 64 (82 percent). At least half of the participants stated they received some sort of state assistance in their income. Under Minnesota’s medical marijuana rules, participants on public assistance pay a reduced annual registration fee of $50, down from the standard $200.
The most helpful statistic for the two registered medical marijuana manufacturers is that 70 percent of the participants indicated that they intend to register for the program when it goes live on July 1, 2015. Only 7 percent stated they had no intention of registering. The Minnesota Department of Health did not indicate if a reason was given for their intention to not register. One potential reason would be accessibility. This has become a hot topic as of late for the two registered manufacturers as some cities have decided to put into place moratoriums that would prevent a medical marijuana dispensary within its city limits. Potential registered patients have been vocal in their displeasure with these moratoriums, citing that people with debilitating diseases do not need any more obstacles to find effective treatment.
If a patient does qualify and registers with the state, they will only be able to ingest medical marijuana in the following forms: liquid, pill, or vaporized delivery method. No method made use the dried leaves or plant form of marijuana. Minnesota’s medical marijuana law is considered one of the most restrictive in the country.