State expands list of conditions medical pot can treat

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan regulators have significantly expanded the list of conditions approved for treatment by medical marijuana by approving 11 medical conditions. The decision also came with the denial of 11 other medical conditions.

The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) on Monday added 11 medical conditions deemed debilitating by the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act of 2008. They are: arthritis, autism, chronic pain, colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, obsessive compulsive disorder, Parkinson's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, spinal cord injury, Tourette's syndrome and ulcerative colitis.

Denied conditions are: anxiety, asthma, brain injury, panic attacks, depression, diabetes, gastric ulcer, non-severe and non-chronic pain, organ transplant, panic attacks, schizophrenia and social anxiety disorder.

Existing entries on the list include post-traumatic stress disorder, cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, Crohn's disease, Alzheimer's disease, and severe and chronic pain.

In a press release, LARA issued the following quote from Director Shelly Edgerton:

“With the changes in state law to include marihuana-infused products, and the advancement of marihuana research, and upon the recommendation of the panel members, I’ve added these eleven conditions to the approved list,” said Edgerton. “I’d like to thank the members of the review panel for their hard work in discussing these petitions and making their recommendations."

Officials say they received public comments related to petitions to add conditions to the list. They add the final decisions reflect changes in state law to include marijuana-infused products and advancing research.

The list of denied medical conditions worries cannabis consultant Jay Flemming.

“They’re trying to be as restrictive as possible, I think," Flemming tells FOX 17.

Flemming is also a former medical marijuana patient and thinks the decision to deny some of the above mentioned conditions, like brain injuries, makes no sense.

“That’s one that I find very confusing," Flemming says. "There is significant research to show that marijuana is very effective at lowering the inflammation in the brain.”

According to a study at UCLA, THC was found to decrease the mortality rate of people with a traumatic brain injury.

When it comes to other disorders, Flemming doesn't agree with the move to approve obsessive compulsive disorder and deny anxiety.

“The difference between OCD and anxiety, OCD, there is significant research that shows that that is very helpful," Flemming says.

Flemming says he knows firsthand how hard it can be for a patient who feels they need to use medical marijuana but can't. He tells FOX 17 he suffered from fibromyalgia but at the time, medical marijuana wasn't legal so he couldn't use it like he felt he needed to.

“During the periods I quit, I saw my own condition deteriorate," Flemming says. “It took a toll on my relationships, it made it harder to work.”

Flemming says the process of implementing expansions to the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act of 2008 has been challenging for patients and the he believes it stems from one thing: stigma.

“For my patients, I see significant improvement in their day-to-day lives and for some of them it saved their lives," Flemming says.

For a full look at the approvals and denials of medical conditions, click here.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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