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ALS patients cleared to use medical marijuana

Hawaii Tribune-Herald - 12/21/2017

The state Department of Health approved amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana use.

The DOH said in a news release Wednesday that the decision was based on "rigorous review," analysis of written and oral testimony, a public hearing and peer-reviewed scientific evidence.

Of the 29 states that permit medical marijuana, 19 include ALS as a qualifying health condition, the DOH said.

The DOH said although it found little evidence to support the value of medical marijuana for ALS, it determined the drug still might be appropriate for ALS patients after they receive a "comprehensive assessment" from their physician or advanced practice registered nurse, along with a risk-benefit discussion.

ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a progressive neurological disease that destroys nerve cells and causes disability, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The DOH declined a consideration to add general anxiety disorder, or GAD, as a qualifying condition, citing "inconclusive medical evidence that cannabis has beneficial use in the treatment or alleviation of symptoms of anxiety, social phobia and social anxiety disorder" and "no evidence specific to GAD."

As of Nov. 30, there were 19,750 valid medical marijuana patients in Hawaii, according to the department's website.

Information provided as of Sept. 30 showed 65.55 percent of Hawaii patients used medical marijuana for severe pain, 13.39 percent for persistent muscle spasms, 7.17 percent for PTSD, 4.83 percent for severe nausea, 4.07 percent for cancer, 1.83 percent for cachexia/wasting syndrome, 1.39 percent for glaucoma, 1.3 percent for seizures and 0.47 percent HIV/AIDS.

Those wanting to add new health conditions for next year must submit petition forms by Feb. 19. Any petition forms received after Feb. 19 will be considered for the following year.

 
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