A panel of doctors urged the Connecticut Consumer Protection Commissioner regulating Connecticut’s medical marijuana program to add four more conditions to the list of ailments qualifying for medical marijuana.
Doctors recommend cannabis for shingles, fibromyalgia, muscular dystrophy and rheumatoid arthritis
The Hartford Courant reports on the state Board of Physicians meeting held to discuss new proposed conditions to qualify for inclusion in the medical marijuana program.
The conditions discussed were all pain-related and included shingles, fibromyalgia, muscular dystrophy and rheumatoid arthritis. The proposal is part of a national attempt to grow the list of medical marijuana approved conditions, making it more available to patients with severe medical problems. Part of the upsurge is motivated by the opioid epidemic that has caused the death of many inhabitants of the state.
Medical marijuana program in Connecticut
Connecticut has a list of 22 serious ailments qualifying for medical marijuana, has 593 certified physicians and more than 15,000 patients registered. The current six state dispensaries will be upped to nine in the near future.
Regina Walsh, a 95-year-old Navy veteran’s daughter, who urged the Board to consider medical cannabis for shingles in severe cases, presented her case. Her father Lt. Commander George J. Walsh, fought World War II and is still very active for his age. It is only shingles that gets him down because of the chronic pain it causes him. He wrote her a letter describing how a severe case of shingles left him with nerve pain that has tormented him for the past three years.
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Medical marijuana for nerve pain
Walsh explained that other medication either had no impact on the nerve pain or had undesirable side effects. Dr. Vincent Carlesi, a member of the panel, confirmed shingles could be debilitating to the extent that people consider suicide. The board instantly agreed that shingles could be treated effectively with medical marijuana, and should be added to the list of qualifying conditions. It is also known as post-herpetic neuralgia.
Some proposed conditions rejected
The panel of doctors rejected recommendations for osteoarthritis, eczema, and emphysema.
The recommendations for these conditions were proposed for adults only, even though the General Assembly approved use by patients younger than 18 years of age for certain severe conditions. The fear of medical marijuana being used by children or young people were repeatedly voiced in the meeting owing to concerns about THC’s effect on brain development.
Medical marijuana to replace opioids
The discussion around the replacement of opioids with medical marijuana was a major priority for the panel. The recommendations will be reviewed by the state Department of Consumer Protection, and will then need approval from the legislature’s Regulations Review Committee.
Cannabis for shingles: will the new list of conditions be approved?
Jonathan Harris, Connecticut Consumer Protection Commissioner, said it could take a year for cannabis for shingles, and the other recommended conditions to be approved by the panel for inclusion in state regulations.