Medical cannabis now used to treat autism, sleep apnea in Minnesota

- The Minnesota Department of Health has added autism spectrum disorders and obstructive sleep apnea to the list of conditions that qualify for medical cannabis. 

MDH used a formal petitioning process used to solicit public input on potential qualifying conditions for medical cannabis. State health officials say there was enough anecdotal and scientific evidence of the benefits of medical cannabis on autism and sleep apnea to support adding them to the list. 

“Any policy decisions about cannabis are difficult due to the relative lack of published scientific evidence,” Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Ed Ehlinger said in a statement. “However, there is increasing evidence for potential benefits of medical cannabis for those with severe autism and obstructive sleep apnea.” 

Victoria Grancarich of Chanhassen says medical cannabis has made all the difference for her 15-year-old son Julian. He lives with severe autism and also suffers from a seizure disorder which is how he initially became eligible for the treatment.

Before he using medical cannabis Victoria says they and doctors tried everything with no luck. She says without medical cannabis her son would’ve taken his own life.

“Nothing else stopped the self-injurious behavior and the aggression we were seeing every day for a year,” said Victoria.

Julian has been on medical cannabis for eight months now and she’s seen drastic improvements already.

“Language is emerging, I’m teaching him to type, he’s mastering programs at school because how can a person possibly learn when they’re in that much pain? so now I think this is the first time in his life he’s really been pain free.”

In a statement, Dr. Andrew Bachman, the CEO of LeafLine, one of the state's two manufacturer's of medical marijuana, called the move "another positive and thoughtful step forward." 

Patients with autism or sleep apnea will be eligible to enroll in the state’s medical cannabis program on July 1 and will start receiving medical cannabis by Aug. 1. 

Medical cannabis qualifying conditions 

  • Cancer associated with severe/chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, or cachexia or severe wasting
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV/AIDS
  • 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 
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