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Autism, sleep apnea added to medical cannabis qualifiers

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota health officials say they're adding autism spectrum disorders and obstructive sleep apnea as conditions that qualify for medical marijuana. Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger says there is increasing evidence that medical marijuana can help people with severe autism or obstructive apnea.

“Any policy decisions about cannabis are difficult due to the relative lack of published scientific evidence,” said Ehlinger. “However, there is increasing evidence for potential benefits of medical cannabis for those with severe autism and obstructive sleep apnea.” The state health department takes public input each year on conditions that might be added as qualifiers to receive medical marijuana. A citizens' review panel and Health Department staff consider each condition. Some of the rejected suggestions this year were anxiety, dementia and Parkinson's disease. The state will have 13 qualifying conditions when people with autism and apnea become eligible next July.

They are:

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

  • Glaucoma


  • 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 (effective July 1, 2018)

  • Obstructive sleep apnea (effective July 1, 2018)

Source: KARE 11

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