By Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) —  Medical cannabis could be available to more Minnesotans. A push is underway to have “chronic pain” as a covered condition.

Medical cannabis was signed into law in 2014. It covers conditions like cancer, HIV, epilepsy and has been expanding to add new conditions.

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The new push is for people who suffer with chronic pain.

Marijuana is the most controversial of plants. Some see it for pleasure, others, like Jeremy Sankey, use it for pain.

“For a long time I dealt with severe depression, I was angry, I was upset I really didn’t know how to feel,” Sankey explained.

Sankey was injured during a training mission with the U.S. Army. He had two unsuccessful spine surgeries.

“Between 2004-2015 I swallowed almost 100,000 pills, a combination of opioid, benzoid, anti-inflammatory, just all kinds of medications,” Sankey said.

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In 2015 he started using medical cannabis.

“Its allowed me to function better, to be a better person, a better parent,” Sankey explained.

About 18,000 Minnesotans use medical cannabis. Sankey is one of several advocates who want more people included in the program.

Pro-cannabis group Sensible Change Minnesota had some bipartisan support as they made a plea to the Governor and commissioner of the Department of Health to include chronic pain sufferers in the cannabis program, people who’ve been suffering from pain for more than six months.

The Department of Health is researching the potential effects to figure out if cannabis could be a solution for people with chronic pain.

The commissioner of the Department of Health has until December 1 to make a final decision on chronic pain.

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The Department of Health’s research suggests that 20% of the U.S. population suffers from chronic pain.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield