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Minnesota medical marijuana taking Alzheimer's



Alzheimer's disease will be eligible for medical marijuana treatment in Minnesota next year and will become the 14th state-certified health status since the program began in 2015.

The Minnesota Department of Health announced Monday that it is undertaking the treatment of the disease by performing degenerative neurological disorders of the cannabis program, which already includes cancer pain, epileptic seizures, post-traumatic stress disorder and autism.

Although research on cannabis and Alzheimer's is limited, some studies have found that marijuana inhibits the formation of tau proteins accelerating dementia and memory loss associated with the disease.

"Any policy decision on cannabis is difficult, as there is no published scientific evidence," said Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm. "However, there is evidence that medicinal cannabis can improve the mood, sleep and behavior of people with Alzheimer's disease."

Seven illnesses were submitted by advocacy groups to a national medical marijuana advisory group this summer. but Malcolm just added Alzheimer's. The others were hepatitis C, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, disorders of opioid use, panic disorder, psoriasis and traumatic brain injury.

Minnesota is now under 1

5 states where medical marijuana can be used to treat Alzheimer's summer to add the condition as a qualifying condition.

Dr. William Orr, a geriatric psychiatrist from Minneapolis, supported the petition, arguing that advanced Alzheimer's could make patients confused, aggressive, and belligerent. Benzodiazepines and narcotics can calm these patients, he wrote, but these drugs are not approved nationwide and can cause severe, mood altering side effects.

"I believe patients with advanced dementia with tremendous anxiety, restlessness and malaise pain will benefit from medical marijuana, he wrote. "Such patients are episodically disturbed and quickly become upset and paranoid of employees trying to help them because they are confused and unable to understand their circumstances." not well researched, but it supported further research.

Minnesota's medical marijuana program began three years ago with two companies that approved the distribution of cannabis in liquid or pill form. Patients seeking cannabis must be certified to meet qualified conditions. The state lists 1,391 physicians or other practitioners entitled to certify.

The state also uses the program to start research because there is little evidence of the medicinal benefit of a drug that is otherwise considered to be illegally controlled, a substance that can impair judgment and addiction. In a survey conducted in this state, 60 percent of patients with chronic pain earlier this year thought cannabis would help, and 43 percent of their doctors agreed.

In September, the state noted 12,207 patients in its active medical marijuana database 7,007 a year earlier. The addition of autism and sleep apnea to the list of qualifying conditions last December did not fuel the surge. Only 396 people with one of these conditions were registered in September.

Most registered individuals reported persistent pain, a condition that was added in 2016. The 7,917 people with this disease accounted for 65 percent of the registry. The second most common diseases were PTSD and muscle spasms.

To what extent the addition of Alzheimer's increases the registration is unclear. The Alzheimer's Association estimates that 94,000 people in Minnesota suffer from the disease. Alzheimer's was the leading cause of 2,220 deaths in this state in 2016.

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