MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — If you suffer from sleep apnea, soon you may be able to rest easy with the help of medicinal marijuana.
The Minnesota Department of Health announced Thursday sleep apnea and autism spectrum disorders have been added to the list as qualifying conditions for the state’s medical marijuana program.
It’s a change that could help thousands of Minnesota families, like 16-year-old Jaxon Tidd and his mother, Heather, of Lakeville. Growing up, the boy’s symptoms were challenging for her.
“He was having rages, aggressive — he just couldn’t calm himself,” she said
Now, the MDH has approved autism and sleep apnea to the list of disorders that will qualify for the state’s medicinal marijuana program.
“This would have been an amazing option,” Heather said.
MDH Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger released a statement announcing the additions saying, in part:
“Any policy decisions about cannabis are difficult due to the relative lack of published scientific evidence. … However, there is increasing evidence for potential benefits of medical cannabis for those with severe autism and obstructive sleep apnea.”
Heather was also on the board that petitioned adding autism to the list.
“The pharmaceuticals that are allowed for autism have horrible side effects. They’re not fun,” she said. “And so to have something with such minimal side effects — and we’ve seen how effective it can be — it’s just huge.”
The Minnesota legislature first authorized the medicinal marijuana program in 2014. That will now include nine conditions, including touerettes, cancer and HIV.
Heather says the newest conditions approved will likely prevent many Minnesota families from moving out of state to find access to medicinal marijuana.
“It’s going to change a lot of lives, and it will be really amazing,” she said.
People wilh autism and sleep apnea will officially be able to enroll in the program in July. So far, no insurance companies cover the cost of medicinal marijuana.