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There are now more patients with chronic pain signed up for Minnesota’s medical marijuana program than there are patients with cancer epilepsy, and terminal illness combined, according to a report from the Star Tribune. The Department of Health added the condition on Aug. 1 and now patients with chronic pain represent one out of three patients enrolled in the program.

Operators in the state are hoping that the recent influx will be a boon for their companies, as Minnesota is one of the most tightly regulated programs in the nation. Dr. Kyle Kingsley, CEO of MinnMed, said his company invested $5 million into its operations in 2015 and operated at a $3 million loss during its first year.

Patients are hoping that the new customers will help drive down the high prices that make the program unaffordable. Cassie Traun, who is diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, said she dropped out of the program due to the exorbitant medicine prices, which ran her thousands of dollars per month.

“I’m tired. I’m sick. I shouldn’t need to be here begging for dignity, begging for access,” Traun said during her appearance at hearing of the state’s medical cannabis task force. “This program is an illusion of a functioning medical cannabis program.”

The Minnesota program prohibits flower use, allowing for only pills and liquid forms of cannabis. The price can range from hundreds to thousands depending on the patient’s condition.

The Health Department is considering adding autism, post-traumatic stress disorder, arthritis, diabetes, amputated limbs, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, insomnia, schizophrenia and treatment-resistant depression to the qualifying condition list this year after they were suggested by members of the public.     

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