MINNESOTA: As of August 1st, LeafLine Labs, the physician-founded and patient-focused organization formed to cultivate, process and distribute medical cannabis in Minnesota, will be able to dispense medical cannabis to patients suffering from intractable pain.
Intractable pain was added to the list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis earlier this year by the Minnesota Department of Health. July 1 was the first day health care practitioners were able to certify patients with chronic pain in the state’s medical cannabis program and August 1 is the first day this medicine is available for patients at distribution locations—including four LeafLine Care Centers in St. Paul, Eagan,Hibbing, and St. Cloud.
“As a caregiving organization dedicated to putting patients first, we welcome this opportunity to improve the quality of life of Minnesotans who bear the burden of chronic pain,” said LeafLine Labs co-founder and CEO Dr. Andrew Bachman. “For too long, dangerous prescription opioids have been used to treat intractable pain when the evidence suggests we should not. Now we can offer a safer alternative—a natural botanically derived medication that treats many causes of chronic pain without the same risk of deadly overdose.”
According to data from the Minnesota Department of Health, the state is experiencing a long-term trend of rising deaths due to drug overdoses, with more than half of drug-related deaths tied to prescription medications. The leading drugs responsible for overdose deaths in 2015 were opioid pain relievers. States with medical cannabis access, according to a 2014 study inJAMA Internal Medicine, have 25 percent fewer deaths from opioid overdose than states without legal medical cannabis.
A recently-published study in Health Affairs showed that patients do indeed turn away from prescription drugs when their state allows medical cannabis as an alternative. In states with legalized medical cannabis, researchers looking at data from Medicare found a decrease in prescriptions for a variety of drugs, for conditions including anxiety, depression, nausea, pain, psychosis, seizures, sleep disorders and spasticity. The drop in prescriptions wasn’t across-the-board: it only appeared for drugs where medical cannabis could feasibly be used as a replacement.
“We take our mission to provide safe, reliable medical cannabis formulations extremely seriously, and look forward to building upon our track record of success. Since medical cannabis became legal in Minnesota, 90 percent of patients have reported mild to significant benefits when surveyed by the Department of Health,” said Dr. Bachman. “Now that the state has extended access to patients with intractable pain, we hope we can save people not just from pain, but from the risks that can come with opioid use, such as accidental dependency, a mounting tolerance, and in some cases, even death.”
In order to schedule an appointment at a Care Center, patients with a qualifying medical condition who have received certification from their health care practitioners must first register with the Minnesota Department of Health’s Office of Medical Cannabis. After registering, they can consult with pharmacists and certified pharmacy technicians at LeafLine Labs to determine which specific botanically-formulated medications and recommended dosages are best for them and purchase their medical cannabis.
LeafLine Labs is one of two Minnesota organizations licensed to cultivate, process and distribute medical cannabis as part of the state’s medical cannabis program, which launched in the summer of 2015. Physician-founded and patient-care driven, LeafLine Labs delivers safe, reliable, sustainable and accessible formulations of botanically derived medication from the whole cannabis plant. We’re dedicated to providing knowledgeable, compassionate, authentic and dignified care to Minnesotans in need.