News release: MDH releases results of public input and advisory panel review on intractable pain

News Release
November 4, 2015

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MDH releases results of public input and advisory panel review on intractable pain

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Office of Medical Cannabis (OMC) today posted two documents reflecting sharply divergent input on the question of whether to add intractable pain to the program’s list of qualifying conditions. Both documents are available on the MDH website at Medical Cannabis: Intractable Pain.

The first document is a summary of more than 400 public comments collected online and at 12 community meetings MDH held around the state over the last few months. The public’s comments are overwhelmingly in favor of adding intractable pain to the program’s list of qualifying conditions (93 percent in favor).

The second document posted is a summary of recommendations from the Advisory Panel on Intractable Pain, created by MDH earlier this year to provide expert medical provider input on the question of adding intractable pain to the list of qualifying conditions. In the document, a majority of panel members recommended not adding intractable pain as an eligible condition. The panel also suggested a variety of criteria for patient inclusion, precautions or exclusions to consider if the state adds intractable pain.

“I am thankful for the time and effort the panel members and public participants put into this process,” Commissioner Ehlinger said. “The recommendations reflect a range of views on the topic, as well as the desire for more clinical evidence regarding potential benefits and risks. While the recommendations are not binding, they are part of a set of information I will review.”

State law requires the Commissioner to decide whether to add intractable pain by January 1, 2016. The Commissioner’s decision can be reviewed, supported or reversed by an act of the legislature. State law defines intractable pain as “a pain state in which the cause of the pain cannot be removed or otherwise treated with the consent of the patient and in which, in the generally accepted course of medical practice, no relief or cure of the cause of the pain is possible, or none has been found after reasonable efforts.”

MDH formed the panel using an open appointments application process administered by the Minnesota Secretary of State. The panel held four public meetings, hearing testimony from public and expert witnesses. Panelists’ views and recommendations were collected and summarized by staff at Minnesota Management and Budget.

In addition to public input and panel recommendations, Commissioner Ehlinger is weighing a University of Minnesota review of medical literature and evidence on the use of cannabis for treating non-cancer pain. The review is available at: Medical Cannabis for Non-Cancer Pain: A Systematic Review.

Commissioner Ehlinger will hold a public meeting on Tuesday, November 10, to collect public comment on the panel’s recommendations. The meeting will be from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Wentworth Library in West St. Paul.


Media inquiries:

Scott Smith
MDH Communications