A majority of Minnesota patients using medical cannabis reported benefits during the first year of the program, according to early data from a first-of-its-kind study by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).
The MDH study draws on data from survey results as well as enrollment, purchasing and related health information to describe the experience of patients using medical cannabis from the program’s start on July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2016.
“Based on this evidence from the first year, Minnesota’s approach is providing many people with substantial benefits, minimal side effects and no serious adverse events,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger.
Patients responded to a survey question asking how much benefit they believe they received from using medical cannabis on a scale from 1 (no benefit) to 7 (great deal of benefit). Across all patients, 64 percent indicated a benefit rating of 6 or 7. In the area of symptom reduction, patients achieved at least a 30 percent reduction in symptoms (an amount considered clinically meaningful) for conditions including seizures, Tourette syndrome, Crohn’s disease and muscle spasms.
For most symptoms, between half and two-thirds of patients who achieved clinically meaningful improvement also retained that degree of improvement over four months. A small but important proportion of patients, 9 percent, indicated little or no benefit with a rating of 1, 2 or 3. Patients also reported that affordability continues to be a problem as medical cannabis is not covered by health insurance.
These year-one findings are consistent with what MDH found after the program’s first three months. MDH has posted the study’s executive summary at its medical cannabis data and statistics page. The summary includes information about first-year enrollment, cannabis purchasing patterns, cannabis use patterns, benefits, adverse effects and affordability. The complete study is scheduled to be released this summer.