Inforum: Patients: Medical marijuana effectively treats pain, post-traumatic stress

MOORHEAD — Amy Wieser Willson has suffered for years from chronic pain so severe that some days she couldn’t get out of bed. On those days, even contact with her bed sheets was painful.

Wieser Willson, whose ailments include fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis, now can take a capsule of medical marijuana before bed and, most mornings, wakes up pain free. Occasionally, when she has a flare-up, she uses a vaporized form of the medication, which relieves her pain.

“While pain may not be visible, it can absolutely be deadly,” she said. Despite her pain, she refused to take narcotic painkillers. Two friends died from opioids; one by accidental overdose and the other by suicide.

Read more here.

KVRR: Moorhead Medical Cannabis Patients Share Treatment Stories

MOORHEAD–Moorhead medical cannabis patients are sharing their treatment stories.

Minnesota Medical Solutions Patient Care Center in Moorhead is currently treating 400 patients to medical cannabis.

Patients can obtain medical cannabis by falling under an eligible condition.

Two of the most common conditions include PTSD and chronic pain.

Medical cannabis is not covered by insurance and patients spend between $100 and $200 per month on their specific dosage.

Read more and watch the story here.

Dr. Kyle Kingsley: To make medical cannabis more affordable, allow patients access to marijuana flower

Check out this op-ed in the MinnPost from Vireo Health CEO Dr. Kyle Kingsley about expanding access to more patients.

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Minnesota has a highly successful medical cannabis program that is helping thousands of seriously ill patients. We have a program that is effective for the majority of participating Minnesota patients, according to patient data published by the Minnesota Department of Health.

Despite these very encouraging results, affordability remains the major challenge facing Minnesota’s three-year old program. While we’re celebrating our clinical success, we can’t turn a blind eye to the affordability problem.

Our company is doing all we can to keep medicines affordable for as many Minnesotans as possible. We offer substantial discounts to low-income patients and veterans, even though our company continues to lose money. Three years of operational experience have helped our operations to be more efficient. Consequently, we have reduced prices for all of our patients during this time.

Read more here.

Star Tribune: PTSD is added to Minnesota’s medical pot program

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is being added to the list of conditions covered by Minnesota’s medical cannabis program, effective next August.

The expansion, announced Thursday by Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger, adds an option for the estimated 8 percent of Minnesotans who, at some point in their lives, will suffer PTSD, a condition that can cause people to relive the emotion of traumatic experiences through panic attacks, nightmares and severe anxiety.

Minnesotans also petitioned to add arthritis, depression and six other conditions, but Ehlinger said the research to date didn’t support the others as strongly.

“PTSD presented the strongest case for potential benefits and a relative lack of good treatment alternatives,” said Ehlinger, who has discretion under state law to enlarge program coverage.

The medical cannabis program already covers seizure disorders, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Tourette’s syndrome and intractable pain — which was added earlier this year and resulted in a surge of patients.

Roughly 3,500 Minnesotans with qualifying conditions are certified to receive medical cannabis, which for now is provided only in oil or pill form in the state. Ehlinger also said Thursday that the state will permit the use of medical cannabis in a topical form, such as patches or creams, starting next year.

Read more here.

MPR News: Minnesota OKs medical pot for post-traumatic stress disorder

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Minnesota will allow the use of medical marijuana to treat people suffering post-traumatic stress disorder, state health officials said Thursday.

The Minnesota Department of Health had been weighing requests to expand the use of medical cannabis for PTSD, autism, arthritis, depression and other conditions.

“While the process of reviewing these potential additions was difficult due to the relative lack of published scientific evidence, PTSD presented the strongest case for potential benefits,” Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger said in a statement.

“PTSD also has few effective treatment alternatives available for some patients with the condition,” he added.

Currently, 16 states list PTSD as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and three others, plus Washington, D.C., give doctors “broad latitude” to recommend it for any serious conditions.

Read more here.

Star Tribune: Half of medical pot dispensed in Minnesota is prescribed to ease pain

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By JENNIFER BROOKS , STAR TRIBUNE
November 08, 2016 – 5:01 PM
When Minnesota’s medical marijuana program opened its doors to pain patients this summer, the hope was that people in pain, and a program struggling with growing pains, might be able to help each other.

That was three months ago. Since then, pain patients have rushed to a program that has battled sluggish enrollment and high prices since its launch last year. Half the people currently enrolled are pain patients, and while it’s too soon to know if that’s enough to save Minnesota’s cannabis program, many patients say the program has already saved them.

“It’s given me my life back,” said Jeanne Luck, one of the 1,667 Minnesotans who have turned to the Office of Medical Cannabis in search of relief from intractable pain — severe, chronic pain that is not eased by the usual painkillers, opioids or therapy.

Learn more about Jeanne’s powerful story and experience with Minnesota Medical Solutions here.

KSTP: Minnesota Medical Marijuana Manufacturer Optimistic Prices Could Drop Soon

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It’s been three months since chronic pain became a qualifying condition for medical marijuana in Minnesota. While the program continues to struggle with low enrollment and high costs, some see reasons for optimism.

One such reason is a recent uptick in patients. According to the most recent numbers from the state, more than 700 health care practitioners are now authorized to certify patients for the state’s medical marijuana program, and nearly 4,000 Minnesotans are now enrolled.

“Going from 18 medications to three medications, and my cannabis has been the best thing that has ever happened to me,” Jody Taylor-Haye said Tuesday morning.

She’s one of many chronic pain patients who say the last three months have been life-changing.

But the program is far from perfect.

“We’re competing with Percocet, where you can basically buy a bottle of 60 or 90 Percocet that can kill most people, and you can get that for a $6 copay,” explained Minnesota Medical Solutions CEO Dr. Kyle Kingsley. “So it’s really hard to compete with that.”

Minnesota Medical Solutions is one of two medical marijuana manufacturers in Minnesota. Since chronic pain became a qualifying condition, Kingsley said they’ve gained about 1,000 new patients, calling it “an objectively good thing.”

Watch the KSTP clip in its entirety here.

 

NEW PRODUCT HELPS PATIENTS MODERATE MEDICAL CANNABIS SIDE EFFECTS

NEW PRODUCT HELPS PATIENTS MODERATE MEDICAL CANNABIS SIDE EFFECTS

Special Vaporizer Cartridge Helps Patients Only Get As Much THC As Needed

Minneapolis, MN (August 31, 2016) – Minnesota Medical Solutions (MinnMed) today announced that it had developed a new product that will help patients moderate the delivery of THC, the primary psychoactive chemical found in the cannabis plant that can cause side effects, such as sensory distortion and lowered reaction time.

The Company’s new “MinnMed Silver” product is a prefilled vaporizer cartridge containing a formulation of natural ingredients and a small amount of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), one of the two primary medicinal chemicals in cannabis. This special formula was created to minimize the various THC-related side effects experienced by many patients. It is the only product of its type available to Minnesota patients.

“Seniors and other patients are understandably wary of side effects,” said Kyle Kingsley, M.D., Chief Executive Officer of MinnMed and its parent company Vireo Health. “While the side effects associated with cannabis are much milder than patients have with opioid pain killers, our new MinnMed Silver formulation will help patients go slow and only get as much medicine as they need.”

For patients that don’t need THC for effective treatment, such as patients with conditions involving seizures, the THC-free MinnMed Violet formulation can be used. However for other patients, such as pain patients, THC is necessary to provide relief. For pain patients, the MinnMed Silver formulation can ensure that patients without experience with cannabis don’t get more THC than then they need.

MinnMed Silver is being released at a time when many new patients suffering from pain are trying medical cannabis, often as an alternative to opioid-based medications. As of August 1, 2016, Minnesota patients with pain that can’t be relieved using conventional treatment methods are eligible to purchase medical cannabis.

The heaviest users of opioids are seniors, according to a December 2014 Express Scripts report. At the same time, they are the age group with the least experience with cannabis, according to a July 2015 Gallup survey. To date, Minnesota seniors, age 65 and above, have been underrepresented in the State’s medical cannabis program. While seniors represent 18 percent of the State’s adult population, ages 18 and above, they only account for 12 percent of the active adult patients in the State’s medical cannabis program.

“As an emergency medicine physician, I saw that many seniors were opioid victims,” said Kingsley. “With seniors disproportionately suffering from pain and suffering opioid-related tragedies, we need to help them overcome their cannabis-related concerns.”

In April, MinnMed released the FREDOM (Flexible Reduction and Expedited Discontinuation of Opioid Medications) protocol as a potential tool for physicians to help patients struggling with chronic or intractable pain replace opioids with medical cannabis.

“Dosing by milligram is one of the most important differentiators of a medical approach to cannabis-based medicines. Observing patients who respond to very low dosing, yet are cautious or sensitive to the psychotropic effects of THC, inspired the development of MinnMed Silver,” said Stephen Dahmer, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of Vireo Health of New York. “This product is aligned with our ‘Start Low. Go Slow.’ protocol by providing patients with a medical cannabis product containing much lower levels of THC. While MinnMed Silver could be used by patients of all ages, the impetus for this new offering has been informed by interactions with senior patients in our Cannabis Patient Centers.”

MinnMed has four Cannabis Patient Centers located in Bloomington, Minneapolis, Moorhead and Rochester.

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Contact: Joe Loveland, joe@lovelandcommunications.com, 651-248-8534

STATEMENT OF KYLE KINGSLEY, M.D., CEO OF MINNESOTA MEDICAL SOLUTIONS AND VIREO HEALTH ON FEDERAL ANNOUNCEMENT ON MEDICAL CANNABIS RESEARCH

Statement of

Kyle Kingsley, M.D.

CEO of Minnesota Medical Solutions (MinnMed) and Vireo Health

Re: Federal announcement removing barrier to medical research

 

August 11, 2016

 

“This is a modest step in the right direction that will help us build on a growing body of research documenting the effectiveness of cannabis-based medicines. That’s good for physicians who need better research, and for patients who deserve the best possible treatments.

 

Ultimately, we strongly support the enactment of the bi-partisan CARERS Act that would acknowledge the scientific evidence that cannabis has accepted medical use and truly empower states to regulate their own medical cannabis programs. Today we made progress, but additional federal reforms are needed to help make medical cannabis more affordable and accessible to patients.”

 

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Background: MinnMed operates four Patient Centers located in Bloomington, Minneapolis, Moorhead and Rochester. More background is available MinnMed at minnesotamedicalsolutions.com.

 

In May 2016, Minnesota Department of Health research found that about 90 percent of Minnesota patients were experiencing benefits from cannabis- based medicines.

 

Background on the CARERS Act at gillibrand.senate.gov/issues/medical- marijuana.

POST-BULLETIN: KYLE KINGSLEY: CAN CANNABIS-BASED MEDICINE LIMIT THE STATE’S OPIOID EPIDEMIC?

As a former emergency medicine physician, I’ve seen my share of patients suffering due to opioid addiction and overdoses. After all, more than 1,000 people per day are treated in emergency departments for misusing prescription opioids, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Americans can’t keep using opioids, such as oxycodone, morphine, and hydromorphone, the way we have been, because they are highly habit forming and deadly. In 2014, the CDC reported that almost 2 million Americans abused or were dependent on prescription opioids. From 1999 to 2014, more than 165,000 people died in the U.S. from overdoses related to prescription opioids.

Read Dr. Kingsley’s full op-ed here.