Approximately half of the more than 1,300 potential participants surveyed in the Minnesota Medical Cannabis program reported their qualifying condition as multiple sclerosis (MS) or severe muscle spasms.

Multiple Sclerosis symptoms/Mikael Häggström
Multiple Sclerosis symptoms/Mikael Häggström

The survey collected responses online from 1,361 Minnesotans. As a voluntary, online survey, it is not a scientifically representative sample of Minnesota’s total population of medical cannabis users. Among survey respondents, 70 percent reported they were likely to register for the medical cannabis program, 24 percent indicated they may register, and 7 percent are not planning on registering.

According to the survey, the most common conditions eligible for medical cannabis among respondents included the following: Multiple sclerosis or severe muscle spasms – 51.5 percent; Cancer – 17.6 percent; Epilepsy or seizures – 17.5 percent; Glaucoma – 10.8 percent; Crohn’s disease – 9.3 percent and Terminal Illness – 7.5 percent.

“We’re making good progress with the program, and this survey gives us some more information about where potential patients may live and the conditions for which they may seek additional treatment,” said MDH Assistant Commissioner Manny Munson-Regala.

Of the potential candidates that responded, approximately 9.5 percent of them were age 18 years or younger, 82 percent were 19 to 64 years old, and 8.5 percent were 65 years or older. More than half of respondents, 53.1 percent, indicated they received public benefits such as Social Security disability or Medicaid. Enrollees on public programs have a reduced registration fee of $50 compared to the full fee of $200. Minnesota’s medical cannabis program is funded with these fees.

Medical cannabis will be available to Minnesota residents registered with MDH whose health care providers certify them to be suffering from one of nine conditions.

The Minnesota Department of Health’s Office of Medical Cannabis is on track to provide medical cannabis products to patients by the statutory deadline of July 1, 2015.

Medical cannabis will not be available via a pharmacy or through a prescription from a doctor. Instead, patients with one of the qualifying conditions will be eligible to enroll in a patient registry maintained by the state. Patients on this registry will be able to get medical cannabis directly from one of eight dispensaries set up around the state.

Medical cannabis will be provided to patients as a liquid, pill, or vaporized delivery method that does not require the use of dried leaves or plant form.