MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A member of the governor’s own Task Force for Medical Cannabis Research says he’s not able to get medical marijuana.
The drug went on sale in liquid and pill form to qualifying patients Wednesday. But some have hit a road block, including a man with one of the approved conditions who helped create the new law.
Duane Bandel lives in Minneapolis. He has AIDS and chronic pain.
“I’ve fought for six months now to get someone on board with my getting it, and it hasn’t happened yet,” Bandel said.
He’s only 54 years old, but Bandel retired from his job with the state department of human services in 2007 after his health declined.
“I suffer from neuropathy, which is the deadening of the nerves in my legs mostly,” he said. “That causes shooting pain, leg cramps.”
His team of doctors has prescribed 19 different medications.
“They help somewhat but not a lot,” he said. “I would really like to try the cannabis to see if that would help with the pain.”
The chronic pain leads to insomnia and that causes fatigue.
But so far, Bandel has had no luck in getting any of his health care providers to certify his condition so that he can register for medical marijuana.
“I really haven’t gotten an excuse, other than, I’ll look and see what options are available for you,” he said.
He believes his HMO, Health Partners, is concerned about liability issues.
“I take vicodin, I take Opium,” he said. “Wouldn’t they have the same liability if I drove and had an accident using that?”
We asked Health Partners about their policy on medical marijuana. Here’s what regional assistant medical director Dr. Art Wineman said in a statement:
“We are sorry that any patient who is seeking relief is frustrated. We share the goal of offering the best treatment for every patient. Some of our doctors and clinicians are already certifying patients to get medical cannabis and we expect more to be registered in the coming weeks. While medical cannabis is now legal in Minnesota, this is uncharted territory and we do not yet know how well it works or who is the best candidate to use it. Our doctors want to be sure that the care they provide is in the best interest of their patients.”
Jim Lawser is Bandel’s husband of nine years. He is also his primary caregiver.
“It’s been really difficult since he retired to watch him deteriorate, especially since there is a strong possibility that there is something that could possibly help,” Lawser said. “That’s sad.”
Bandel says he has another appointment to see his doctor in two weeks and is hoping for some good news.
He says it would be difficult to switch to a new doctor or clinic.
The latest numbers from the state department of health show 98 patients are now able to buy medical marijuana in Minnesota, and 232 doctors and physician’s assistants are authorized to certify patients.